- Also available in a single-disc version.
In a time where some claim the 'death' of dance music, and where indie bands are invading dance festivals all over, groups like Royksopp are needed to keep the reputation of the genre respectable and in a year with so many good albums out all ready, there is quite a task in hand. Fear not. 'The Understanding' is awesome. In the space of four listens it has become my favourite dance album of all time and is the highlight of the year so far.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect at first, whether we we're going to get more of the same with 'Melody A.M.' pt 2. or not, but 'The Understanding' is a different beast altogether. Forget reams of subtle hazy beats and melodies, this album is one to dance to and it doesnt let up throughout. If 'Melody A.M.' was the album of a summer day, this is the album of the summer night. It all kicks off steadily with the piano-driven 'Triumphant' before going into the stunning 'Only This Moment' which is like a hot and sweaty Ibiza-born Eple. Following this is my personal fave, '49 Percent', which sounds equally epic and really grabs you by the throat with its hypnotic vocals and driving beats- its certainly not background music.
Now at this point when you're expecting it to ease up and give you a chill-out, it just doesnt. 'Boys' is quite indicative of the direction being taken by the lads at the moment and even has a dabble with acidy squelches and pushes the boundaries a bit. 'Follow My Ruin' is just as gutsy and, like every track, has its own presence, but fits in with the whole ethic of the album. 'Beautiful Day Without You' is the most laid-back so far and is the 'summer track' with familiar Royksopp features. Just as you've let your guard down, you're hit with 'What Else Is There?', which is unusual with distinct female vocals and a (seemingly recurrent) seriousness about it. 'Circuit Breaker' breaks down more barriers and is a pacy, beat-laden affair before the ambient epic 'Alpha Male' brings the album to its summit.
After all the serious dancing you've been doing throughout this, Someone Like Me is the start of the come-down and is familiar territory and could have fit on 'Melody A.M.' with its laid back, trademark tempo. Ending peacefully, 'Dead To The World' is like a dream with a melody ascending and descending behind easy vocals.
This album has clearly stretched the boys and is quality throughout (a lesson in how you spend three years on an album), making their live shows an even better prospect. Im eagerly awaiting the release of 'The Understanding' and it won't be leaving my cd player for some time. I can't imagine anyone not liking this, so get your orders in now and get excited!
After a playing it to death in my car I can honestly say that it gets better with every listen. It's a lot more upbeat than Melody AM overall although it does have it's chilled out tracks (Sombre Detune, Dead To The World).
My favourite track on the album is What Else Is There? The smooth silky melody, dark beat and 'Bjorkesque' guest vocalist make it a fascinating listen.
There isn't one bad song on this album. It's pure brilliance!
5 stars out of 5 and the rest!
As a follow up to Melody A.M. I was initially a little disappointed by the hint of R&B vocals in 49 Percent, but somehow I found myself hooked on this album for days on end until I came to realise it is utterly fabulous.
Although a slightly different direction with more of a vocal leaning, this is pure Röyksopp with happy melodies forming the foundation for sombre, melancholy lyrics (or just titles: "beautiful day without you"). The beauty of those lyrics would be spoiled by giving them away here.
The synths are perfect: not too many layers to swamp the tracks, but enough variety of texture to keep the listener interested.
Alpha Male is very much the new Röyksopp's Night Out, with hints of Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream and Pink Floyd building up to a big, big track.
Other stand out tracks are What Else Is There with its beautiful guest vocals, Follow My Ruin with a mere hint at 70s funk and the instrumental Sombre Detune.
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