Well, that’s a mighty bold statement, plastered across the sleeve of Kings Of Convenience’s debut album. Especially when it’s overlaying a picture of the Norwegian duo themselves, droid-like archetypes of NHS-specced, sensible-shirted orthodoxy. You note the opening track is called ‘Winning A Battle, Losing The War’. You imagine these men advancing on the combined force of 2000’s most brutal post-hardcore-metal troopers, acoustics under arms, and prepare to witness a crushing.
Amazingly, it never comes. ‘Quiet Is The New Loud’ forges triumph from stolidly primitivist values by pulling the same soft-focus folk tricks that anguished men on stools have done for the past 40 years, only [I]better[/I]. To mark KOC out as flagbearers for any movement seems faintly absurd; at times the vibe is one of virtual inertia, and Eirik Glambek Bøe and Erlend Øye are content to describe endless sonic circles with their twin guitars. Yet the simplistic beauty and starry-eyed harmonies of ‘Failure’ or ‘Little Kids’ justify this kind of flaxen traditionalism.
Influences are touted without disguise (Nick Drake constantly; Belle & Sebastian on the brass flourishes of ‘Singing Softly To Me’; ‘Wonderwall’, oddly, during ‘Weight Of My Words’) but with such tangible love that it’s genuinely moving.
Of course, quiet isn’t really the new loud. In the heat of the battle, though, it can be a stealth bomber.