Five years after their last full release, the Norwegian folk duo that is Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe have this record that is so cleanly played, so crisply recorded – partially in an Italian studio and partially at Øye’s home – and it is perhaps this trait that makes them stand out which also acts as their greatest fault, that they walk the line between dull and elegant, fallling onto either side from song to song.

On one hand, there is no lack of bossa nova with forgettable lyrics of a presumptuous former love, and until Øye passively attacks her cold façade, it seems almost unthinkable that Norwegians would use terms like “fronting,” which seems sort of displaced. There’s also some decent Django Reinhardt influence (“Boat Behind”), and the collaboration of steel and nylon, each man taking his turn, is pure grace.

But the vocal harmonization of Øye backing Bøe is a bit bland, and the pair is at their best when Bøe stands alone, particularly on “My Ship Isn’t Pretty,” where his use of nylon guitar is almost as understated as the bass that merely boosts it, his voice finally front and center in an otherwise empty room of a song. Perfect.

Grade: B

Declaration of Dependence is currently available.