Release Date: Mar 24, 2009
Record label: Astralwerks
There's a gorgeously indulgent quality to Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland's third album. As if determined to shake off their simplistic yet lingering reputation as purveyors of pleasant musical wallpaper for clothes shops and TV soundbeds, the Norwegian duo have gone for broke this time around: plump, tactile synthesisers, viscid dance grooves and a crack squad of vocalists, all deployed with precision and verve. Joining regular confederate Anneli Drecker, a trio of Swedes raise the songwriting stakes: Lykke Li coos and sighs over the beatific arpeggios of Miss It So Much; the Knife's Karin Dreijer Andersson, her voice like a Scandinavian winter, injects bewitching unease into the Orbital-like drama of Tricky Tricky; and Robyn bemoans the vicissitudes of human-android romance on the tremendous The Girl and the Robot.
On Junior, their third album, Röyksopp have taken their trademark down-tempo synth style and made it mid-tempo. Torbjørn Brundtland and Svein Berge move away from millennium trance tracks like 49 Percent from 2005's The Understanding, and that's a good move. [rssbreak] Much of Junior's success comes from vocal contributions by Nordic singers Robyn, Lykke Li, the Knife's Karin Dreijer Andersson and Röyksopp regular Anneli Drecker.
Listen to it now and you might beg to differ, but history's current take on The Understanding (Röyksopp's 2005 answer to their relentlessly smiley faced debut) seems to be that it was a misstep. Despite a lead single ("Only This Moment") that foresaw trance's miniature mainstream resurgence and memorable contributions from Karin Driejer (whose "What Else Is There" ranks among Röyksopp's finest songs) and Chelonis R. Jones (whose syncopated "49 Percent" helped eke the Norwegian duo into more credible techno territory), this darker, more textured follow-up stalled at the gate.
Makers of sophisticated dance-pop with more than enough production finesse to intrigue electronica listeners, Röyksopp complete their transition from trip-hop maestros to electronic popsters on their third album, Junior. As on 2005's The Understanding, the melodies here are unmissable, whether there's a star vocal feature or not -- and, to signal their rising status, there are several here. Karin Dreijer of the Knife returns for two songs (including the dizzyingly Moroder-like "This Must Be It"), while Robyn makes her Röyksopp debut on "The Girl and the Robot" (which may or may not be an inter-life form torch song), and Lykke Li also makes a first appearance with "Miss It So Much" (also curiously robotic, with the lyric "My mechanical heart, how it tears me apart").
Röyksopp introduce its third album, Junior, with a chuckle before ratcheting forward into its first single and 2009’s good-times anthem, “Happy Up Here”. The group’s website puts it in similar language, “Every once in a while we surface to share our music and shed some light in an otherwise bleak reality.” It’s true: This bleak reality can’t be found on Junior, which is both a recapitulation and a narrowing of a sentiment the group had previously expounded upon. The Norwegian duo seems determined to be optimistic and extroverted throughout, and in doing this, the album might end up being its best yet.
If there is anything to be learned from the massive assault that pop culture wages on the average person daily, it is that some cliches, despite their exhaustion, really are true. Books cannot be judged by their covers, chains really are only as strong as their weakest link, and people really are afraid of what they don't understand.This last one, the fear of the unknown, is a possible reason that Electronica has never fully been embraced in the United States. Not to suggest that Americans can't handle the genre or that our European friends across the Atlantic are more open minded, but it is a fact that electronic music has not made the same splash state-side that it has in other parts of the world.
When Röyksopp's first album, Melody AM, was released in 2001 its fusion of disco and Pink Floyd, along with the odd yodel, hinted at new possibilities for house. Eight years later, no longer so wide-eyed, the Norwegian duo sound more pedestrian, though Röyksopp Forever proves they haven't lost their sense of fun. .
This Norwegian production couple are deft punks on their third album, a synthetic collection of upbeat dance music encapsulated by the coiling, galactic theme song "Röyksopp Forever." Electro-pop starlets Karin Dreijer Andersson of the Knife ("This Must Be It") and Robyn ("The Girl and the Robot") glisten in the mix, while Lykke Li adds precocious longing to standout "Miss It So Much." .