So it’s been interesting to listen to their latest single “Rocky Trail
,” released just last week after an extended 12-year break. During that period away—made longer by challenges with recording a new record, which took five years to pull off—the band became a hugely popular streaming favorite, effectively becoming that band that lots of people secretly loved … like Nick Drake and Elliott Smith, except they were still with us, and fully aware of the risks of deviating from the formula.
Compare this to other bands known for a certain sound from this era. Bon Iver, which started out as basically a soft-focus acoustic project just like Kings of Convenience did, is now much more of an avant-garde project with electronic influences, and as a result Justin Vernon’s For Emma, Forever Ago hits differently in the context of a larger collection of music—it feels pedestrian compared to a more ambitious whole, despite arguably still being Bon Iver’s best record.
To be clear, Bøe and Øye recorded more ambitious music the entire time as well—Øye in particular has released a bunch of music under different names, most notably The Whitest Boy Alive
. (Last year, he recorded a pandemic album, Quarantine at El Ganzo
, with another member of that band after getting stuck in a hotel in Mexico.)
But a Kings of Convenience album? You knew exactly what you were getting. And that is a massive asset in an era when often getting into a new act means you actually want more of the same.
So when “Rocky Trail” appeared last week sounding exactly like a song on Quiet is the New Loud
, it was as if the duo knew what it was doing, releasing music that would fit perfectly with the other three albums they’ve released. (Also, the music video
, which comes off like an off-brand IKEA ad, is a breath of fresh air and full of random details
To put it another way, Kings of Convenience has positioned itself as the perfect band for the streaming era. You know what you’re getting from them.
They play the hits on the main project, and they save the experiments for elsewhere.