Wall of Sound/Astralwerks
4.5 out of 5 stars
You know that feeling you get at a party when the music dies and the crowd disperses, but you still want to dance? Röyksopp’s new album Junior has you covered. The album vacillates between emulating post-party woes with exceptional precision and delivering a smorgasbord of happy dance tracks that will keep your feet moving while the celebration is in full swing.
Junior is a near-perfect revision of Röyksopp’s resumé, combining the upbeat ambience of Röyksopp’s first album Melody A.M. with the more down-tempo tracks of the band’s second release The Understanding. The group has even thrown in a few female Scandinavian singers into the mix to complement band members Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland’s own airy vocals. Changing up vocalists gives each song its own unique flavor, and Röyksopp manages to maintain cohesiveness on the record by tinging each track with its own distinct brand of ambient-yet-danceable instrumentation.
The deft variation gives the album much of its strength, but there’s another factor that pushes Junior from lightweight up-and-comer to heavyweight champion: “Röyksopp Forever.”
The track showcases every chunk of awesomeness the group has to offer; its steady, enduring drum beat lets the blissful synthesizers shine through as they switch between rapid, electronic scales and imitations of stringed instruments releasing uplifting symphonies. The song’s soaring instrumentation is so epic it sounds prepared to serve as score to a monumental battle scene. “Röyksopp Forever” isn’t fast-paced enough to keep anybody moving at a raging party, but it’s a bad-ass accompaniment to any hazy walk home.
Elsewhere, Junior makes its money by giving people songs to dance to long into the night. “Happy Up Here,” the first track, is a bubbly, booty-shaking number with bouncy synths and funky guitars. “The Girl and the Robot” is also well-suited for the dance floor, but it diverges from the previous track’s perkiness with its ominous drum-machine, rolling synthesizers and ethereal syllabic chanting in the background that lends it a creepy undertone.
Unfortunately, all prodigious celebrations must end, and likewise, so does Junior. Röyksopp fully understands the melancholy that accompanies the death of a party, providing listeners with a track that embodies the feeling with impeccable accuracy. “You Don’t Have A Clue,” with the lines “It’s late in the night / dancing is done / The music has died / You’re ready to run / But you don’t have a clue / This party hasn’t ended yet,” is the ideal companion for post-party depression.
“You Don’t Have A Clue” is also a good friend for when you’re hit by that same depression after you realize Junior is over. The album skillfully balances its high energy with its soothing atmospheric quality, creating an aural bliss that is bound to leave listeners a bit upset when it’s all said and done. But Junior’s inevitable end is the only disappointment to be found among its 11 tracks, a grievance that is quickly forgotten when you realize that there’s nothing stopping you from playing it again and again.