RIYLIron & Wine
3. Cayman Islands
4. Stay Out Of Trouble
6. Sorry or Please
7. Love Is No Big Truth
8. I'd Rather Dance With You
9. Live Long
10. Surprise Ice
11. Gold in the Air of Summer
12. The Build-Up
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The covers of the Kings' debut and sophomore albums tell you everything you need to know about them. 2001's Quiet Is The New Loud featured outside, young, in love. Time passes. Erland Oye, Kings' bespectacled half, fiddles around with an eponymous dance side project. And then it's 2004, high time for a royal comeback. Now they're inside, a little wry, a little wistful. They're playing chess. But not really.
That is to say: where Quiet was lovelorn, hushed and fragile, Riot is a little older, a little wiser, and certainly not afraid to be a little louder. Early track 'Misread' is upbeat and uptempo, and was certainly an indication of the influence of what Erland Oye might have taken away from his electronic forays. The brunt of the record is still percussion-less, relying wisely on the two Kings' impeccable talent for underspoken acoustic guitar, but where their debut had songs full of urgent love and quiet desperation, they are now trading heartbreak for introspection and observation.
The album's midsection picks things up even more, with 'Love Is No Big Truth,' a song which begs for a remix by fellow Norwegians Royksopp, as well as 'I'd Rather Dance With You,' wherein is marked the first time I've ever felt like shaking my moneymaker to a Kings track. From there the album goes into a cooldown for its final act, 'Live Long' proving again that they can do no wrong with a horn player, and 'Surprise Ice' taking the cake as the best love song they've written. It's a cold, near-glacial ballad with its payoff in a beautiful chorus. It makes the subsequent 'Gold in the Air of Summer' come dangerously close to the edge of boring. But the finisher, the luxuriously wistful 'The Build-Up,' ends the album on a high note, also ranking as one of the most compelling Kings tracks.
This is a grown up, tighter, better Kings of Convenience. Fans old and new will be enchanted.