Kings of Convenience, 'Declaration of Dependence' (Virgin)

Critical Mass
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by David Marchese

Five years have passed since we last heard from Norwegian shrinking violets Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe. They're still extremely sad, but now they're showing it in different ways. In addition to well-turned folk melodies and sparkling finger-picking (check "24-25"), the duo now drape their sparse melancholy in gentle Brazilian rhythms ("Me in You") and Gypsy jazz ("Boat Behind"). At times, the forlorn vibe can get oppressive -- "Peacetime Resistance" goes one love-as-war metaphor too far -- but overall, the album is a welcome return from these princes of the bummer.

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