after a twelve year hiatus, they have come back with a serenity much needed in 2021.
I first discovered the Norwegian duo somewhere in the endless abundance that was tumblr, when you could still rip songs straight from the multi-media blog platform. I was sixteen and broken at the time, juggling my identities of being a queer Asian in conservative Orange County.
I still remember the terror of the gym, undressing in front of boys in the humid climate of when “faggot” crossed hateful mouths with much ease. “Gay” was still an easy insult, even after the AdCouncil funded a Wanda Skyes commercial against the usage of the word. I never felt safe as a teenager, and thus, thought I would never feel safe for the rest of my life. This made judgement from others loom heavily on me, even when it wasn’t there at all. Teen angst mixed with this overwhelming otherness put so much pressure on me that it was difficult to exist at times. It was difficult to sit in a classroom where hetero-normative boys could easily talk about how much darker their genitals were from the rest of their bodies when it was so goddamn hard for me to even be alive.
I’ve had the usual teen minority maladies. Getting my head rammed into public toilets. Getting stabbed by mechanical pencils. Getting named every single offense that folks in the AIDS pandemic haven’t heard for the first time. And this was somewhere in 2010. It was all a bullying I could not pinpoint a reason for. Trying to pinpoint that reason left questions as to who I am, what I represented, what I presented to myself, and what I was supposed to do. I didn’t know what to do.
I would rush home and scroll endlessly through tumblr until there was nothing left but my own numbness. Until I happened across Cayman Islands by Kings of Convenience.
The light brush of guitar strums that almost sounded like bare feet in sand sets you in the immediate tone of serenity. And they’re so good at this. Followed by sweet chords, first nostalgic, and then sweet when their voices flood in.
All their songs are like this.
I would loop their discography, Misread played up to an infinity that put me to sleep just for the night.
I would wake up, only to look forward to night, when the world felt safe at last for a sixteen year old kid for me.
It’s 2021 now, and they’ve just released Rocky Trail as spring is dying down. And what a rocky trail it has been.
Evoke their usual lyrics of longing for the usual lost lover in the general romance we’ve all felt once. But for the first time, I think they’re talking about the year 2020, a year in which a gap has been created in the lives of every person today. This longing has never felt cold or victimized, and for them to come back after 12 years, brings warmth and familiarity that knows only our favorite things, the ones that keep us afloat through rough days.
Kings of Convenience has been a favorite of mine, thick and thin, only to be presented in a time where I feel better adjusted to the endless question of I. Here’s to less rougher days and ways towards a wholesome answer.