“Riot On An Empty Street” by Kings of Convenience (2004)

There was a point in my adolescence when my playlist was filled with music that my friends had never heard of or would label me a hardcore hipster, a name I am actually quite complacent with. This all began when I first followed Josh Radnor on Twitter, with his daily Song of the Day tweets constantly widening my musical horizons (Thank you Mr Radnor!). And from then on, I never looked back.

A few of my favourites from those tweets include Matt Duncan’s “Beacon”, The Pernice Brother’s “Overcome by Happiness” (which became my life’s theme song at some point) and recently, The Spring Standards’ “Chicago”. However, there were some songs that led me into liking an entire album, and in this case, it is “Homesick” by Kings of Convenience.

I would honestly say that I like listening to music that my friends don’t rave about. It makes those songs that much more special and personal for me, as if those songs were private affairs that only I could enjoy, which would help me not only with poetry writing sessions but also as appropriate background music to my life as I drifted from place to place.

Maybe this is the unexplained secret of the hipster: liking something unfamiliar because its purpose and soul can’t be dissipated by mass adoration and repetitive playback in clubs and other social gatherings. Its poetry can remain sacred and never be ridiculed by listeners who can’t come close to deciphering the meaning of the song.

The Album:

The album “Riot on an Empty Street” was first released in 2004, and it serves as the second musical offering from the Norwegian singing duo, third in general if you count their remix album. The two singers of the duo are named Erlend Oye and Eirik Glambek Boe. Their music had made themselves comfortable all over the world, from Norway, the UK, America and France, so you could say that this band isn’t all that hipster, but it really is for my specific friendship group.

Kings Of Convenience - Riot On An Empty Street

The album’s general tone is very light and bouncy, acoustic tunes that remains consistent throughout. I could liken this to “Talk on Corners” by The Corrs, due to both albums having an ethereal and soulful sound to it.

Favourite songs include “I’d Rather Dance with You”, utilising the bouncy element honestly and playfully, almost causing the listener to forget the meaning of the song; “Homesick” as my gateway song to the album, “Sorry and Please” and “Gold in the Air of Summer” as one of my 2014 summer songs.

The Listener:

I first heard the entirety of this album only recently when I bought their album on iTunes as my personal way of spoiling myself after pay day, but I first really dived into their music back in 2012, back when my hair was long, I had little money and I spent my days studying Renaissance poetry and drinking lots of shots.

Most of these songs will forever remind me of autumn days in my sixth form William Morris Sixth Form, possibly the most hipster sixth form around West London. I will always remember “Misread” whispering in my ears as I trudge out of Barons Court station at 7:50am, just in time as an epiphany would suddenly burst into my brain, clearing up a cloudy problem in my mind as I finally really hear the message underneath the lyrics:

A friend is not a means

You utilise to get somewhere 

Somehow I didn’t notice

friendship is an end

What do you know

It happened again

Another scene that I will never forget would be every Friday afternoon, when I would finish class and head down to Hammersmith bus station and take the long way home. Instead of usual route of Hammersmith to Kensington High Street to Earls Court, I’d take Hammersmith to Barnes to Roehampton to Putney to Fulham and finally Earls Court, with the guitar strumming of “Cayman Islands” lulling me to sleep on the bus, ignoring people’s invites to go out after my classes finished.

Falling leaves everywhere, wearing comfy brown jackets, passing by friends’ houses around Roehampton. I was in complete bliss, and I was conscious with the fact that I was in a good place, and listening to this album in the future will always put me back to that place.

Thank you, Kings of Convenience, you have painted my days golden, as in the air of summer.

Get their album here:

iTunes: Riot on an Empty Street

Amazon: Riot on an Empty Street (click here for a hard copy)

– Troy

Published by troycabida

Troy Cabida (he/him) is a Filipino poet and producer based in south west London. His recent poems have appeared in TAYO Literary Magazine, harana poetry, MacMillan and bath magg. He is a producer for London open mic night Poetry and Shaah and co-founder of Liwayway Kolektibo, an arts and culture network providing space for UK-based Filipino/a/x creatives. His debut pamphlet, War Dove, was published by Bad Betty Press in 2020. Photo taken by Ray Roberts.

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