Release Date: Nov 10, 2014
Record label: Interscope
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance
Norwegian electronic duo Röyksopp are ready to say goodbye to the traditional album format, announcing that The Inevitable End, their fifth full-length, would be "the last thing" for them in terms of albums, while not closing the door on music altogether. It has been quite the year for the influential duo, having already released a collaborative "mini-album" with Robyn and touring the world in its support, while constantly dropping new material for short bursts in their many email blasts. In terms of goodbyes, Röyksopp have recorded the best final album they could have envisioned: a layered and cohesive package of enveloping synths filled with addictive hooks.
Chaucer once coined the phrase, “there is an end to everything, to good things as well”, thus illuminating the reality that all things under the sun have an expiration date. In the case of Röyksopp’s fifth and final studio album, the Norwegian electronic duo have not yet exhausted their seemingly boundless creativity. A door may be closed, but another is standing wide open beside it.
Norwegian electro-pop wizards Röyksopp say goodbye to the album format with The Inevitable End, their fifth and purportedly final LP. In the four years since 2010's downbeat, mostly instrumental Senior, producers Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland have continued to shift their focus toward singles and collaborations, working with Swedish pop star Robyn on a 2013 mini-album, offering up a pair of new tracks on their Late Night Tales compilation, and basically doing whatever their whimsy dictates. Their alignment with prominent European vocalists has been a recurring theme since their 2002 Erlend Øye (Kings of Convenience)-assisted breakthrough "Poor Leno," with each consecutive album (excepting Senior) boasting more and more cameos as they transitioned from chillout pioneers to pop songsmiths.
As part of DIY’s July 2014 cover feature with Röyksopp and Robyn, the former’s Svein Berge admitted that he’s coming to terms with the idea of things coming to an end. “It seems like death and mortality and such are a great subject matter. It’s interesting to explore. It’s something we touch upon with our music.” With ‘The Inevitable End’, the Norwegian production duo of Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland are giving in to finality.
Röyksopp‘s career has never been defined by one style of electronica. The duo, alongside a starry-eyed selection of co-stars like Lykke Li, Karin Dreijer Andersson and Robyn, have made everything from club bangers to pulsating epics and moody ambience for the after-hours over four records. That’s why the news that The Inevitable End, their first album in four years, is set to be their final full-length release is particularly galling.
It's difficult to experience Röyksopp's so-called final album, the appropriately titled The Inevitable End, without getting at least somewhat caught up in its bittersweet context. Far from a somber affair, though, the album's infectious mix of pomp and melancholy renders the Norwegian pair's swan song more slow-motion victory lap than funereal. The Inevitable End isn't shy about its moodiness, as evidenced on songs like the mesmerizing, expletive-laden “Rong,” but dovetailing confidently from post-yacht rock to their signature brand of electro-house, Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland are viciously unapologetic about their bipolar approach.
"All that we were, all that we knew, fading away" woes the closing refrain on ‘Sordid Affair’, and it’s easy to see the line as standing for Röyksopp themselves. Thirteen years and five albums in and the Norwegian duo are backing away from 'the traditional album format' - they’re still planning to make music, they say, but it won’t be like this. Not that we should let the matter of their demise overshadow the music, of course.
Röyksopp’s fifth LP, as its title suggests, will be their last – at least in a “traditional album format”, they say. Closely following Do It Again, their collaborative EP with Robyn, their latest offering includes a reworking of the already excellent Monument from that record and, befitting a final album, continues the track’s poignant exploration of endings. The best songs have a dark, brooding quality: the Norwegian duo’s once naive sound has evolved to a smarter, more lyrically resonant electronica, and if it weren’t for a couple of whimsical ballads, this would be a powerful, cohesive goodbye.
Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland’s final album as Röyksopp embodies their strengths and their weaknesses. The makers of Poor Leno and Remind Me are recognisably present, but so is the group that creates coffee-table electronica so ennui-laden that one feels the tiredness, boredom and despair descending as one listens. The former is represented here by two outstanding pop songs.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Poor Röyksopp. 2001's Melody A.M. was one of those albums that so defines a band's career that every time a new release comes around, a kind of collective amnesia sets in. 'Gosh, Röyksopp - they haven't done anything for ages, have they? What do ….
For Röyksopp, the end was contained in the beginning. Though the Norwegian duo aren't calling it quits, Torbjørn Brundtland and Svein Berge have billed their new album as their last in the "traditional album format." Still, the downtempo house of Röyksopp's slickly pleasurable 2001 debut, Melody A.M., with its countless licensing opportunities and compilation appearances, already foreshadowed the post-album era. Across subsequent releases, Röyksopp have evolved with the rest of Scandinavian electronic pop, but overall their best work has tended to be other than LP length, whether a remix for the Streets, a remix by Trentemøller, or a robot-romancing Robyn team-up.
It means something to put on an exit show. It would have been easy enough for Röyksopp to disappear, to let the clock wind down on their 16-year streak and just stop releasing records without so much as a whisper. But the Norwegian duo picked 2014 as the last year they’d commit to the album as a form, announcing The Inevitable End not as a finale to their career but as the last full-length project that Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland would ever complete together.
Although they’ll possibly continue to make music in other forms, this is Röyksopp’s final album. Why be so conclusive? It’s odd, especially since ‘The Inevitable End’ is not a statement by the Norwegian duo on the death of the album format, but a consequence of current “turmoil” in their lives, as they wrote on their website. It has, unsurprisingly, a dour feel – sparse productions coupled with morose lyrics, sung by guests including recent collaborator Robyn: “There’s nothing more to say” (‘You Know I Have To Go’); “I’m falling apart” (‘Save Me’); “I don’t remember anymore what I used to be” (‘I Had This Thing’).
This might be Röyksopp’s best album. Let’s just state that at the outset. It’s bittersweet as hell, knowing that this is also their swansong, but at least Norway’s most dynamic electro duo are ending this chapter of their life on a high. As their final album The Inevitable End acts like the third part of a gripping trilogy should.
opinion byJEAN-LUC MARSH Any counterargument at this point is moot: the internet age is in full swing. The World Wide Web has made the ascendance of musical talent from relative nothingness commonplace. Making an entrance into the collective consciousness of the music world has never been so easy. Less simple however, are the protocols that should be followed when trying to exit from this platform.
It's hard to decide what to make of Röyksopp's announcement that their fifth record will also be their final studio album. The Norwegian duo have since clarified that they will still work together, just not within the album framework. But the dark mood haunting much of the material on The Inevitable End suggests that there's more going on than just an interest in other formats.