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4.1 out of 5 stars69
4.1 out of 5 stars
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This is thoroughly exciting stuff. Back in 2001, I bought Melody A.M. and have subsequently got it out every summer and given it a good listen but after four years, it was time for a follow-up.
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!
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on 26 September 2005
The first time I listened to this album I wasn't enthralled but then I remember feeling like this when I first heard their previous album Melody AM and I ended up loving that. This album is a grower.
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!
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on 16 August 2005
The first time I heard the majority of this album was at a gig in London before the album was out. Although no one had heard tracks like Alpha Male, Beautiful Day... and Follow My Ruin, they were clearly great stuff.
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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on 12 July 2005
I really liked Melody A.M, but after I bought it I wouldn't of called myself a "huge fan" of Royksopp even though I loved the album. When I heard they were releasing a second album I was interested but didn't rush out to buy it. How stupid was I! I purchased this ablum yesterday after much contemplation, as I had heard mixed reviews. I am so glad I did because the album is simply amazing!
Ok its not exactly the same as Melody A.M but then why would want more of the same?? I think its great when artists change there musical style. And in fairness it DOES still sound like Royksopp so it doesn't feel like you are listening to a different artist altogether.
Many of the tracks are more commercial friendly, which prehaps means Royksopp are trying to appeal to a broader audience when they release singles. Current single "Only This Moment" is an example of this.
Stand out tracks are of course "Only This Moment" which is chilled but at the same time up-beat electro with dreamy vocals..."Follow My Ruin" (possible next single?) which is in the same vein of "Only This Moment" and is catchy and melodic... "Alpha Male" which is the most thumping electro and close to trance and teh album gets, this is one of my favourite tracks... "Dead to the world" is dreamy and relaxing and a very emotional track. To be honest every track is great on this album and I would recommend buying this album even if you are not a fan of Royksopp's previous work.
I don't think I have been taken in by an album as quickly as with "The Understanding" and I haven't even began to listen to the bonus 5 track cd yet!!
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on 30 June 2005
I think that röyksopp's debut album "Melody A.M" was (and still is) one of the new millenium's greatest electronic records. When i heard that record first time, i didn t like it very much but when i gave it a few listens more, i loved it. It's
warm, spacey and airy sound just convinced me and most important it had quality songs in it. The record was well built, it was a great mix of club hits, pop songs and more experimental electronica. You can say almost all the same things
about the new record, though it's more poppier and it's not as good record as Melody A.M. There are definitely strong songs here, just like in Melody A.M but there are also couple of misses.
When i first heard the single "only this moment" i thought well...I think it's one of the albums weakest songs. Cheesy synth start sounds almost like eple and the song is getting maybe little too much in the eurodance field. Though that is one thing i like so much röyksopp because they are little cheesy but just in a right way and not too much. I have only listen the record a few times and i must say that "only this moment" don t say much about this record.
The first song "Triumphant" is just brilliant start with it s pianoline, really agressive drums and cinematic feel in it. This is röyksopp at their best. "49 percent" i think is one of the albums failures. I don t know what they have tried to do with this song but in the beginning it sounds little like Prince but as the song keeps going, in the end it sounds like some bad nu-jazz compilation. On "Sombre Detune" we get to the point again. Dark beats and athmopshere with cool synth bassline and
dreamy chords, this is one of the most experimental songs in the album. And then we get to the popstuff. "Follow my ruin" is just a great pop song with its disco bassline and cheesy vocals. "Beautiful day without you" is a cool poppy house with softvocals again. Röyksopp boys sounds little like Erlend Oye. "What else is there" is records suprise. It's a massive tune with vocals that sounds like Kate Bush or something and it's really big sounding and beautiful song.
They could have leave "Circuit Breaker" out of the album because i think the song is not very strong and it just feels like a filler in the album. "Alpha Male" is the album's proge song, over 7 minutes of beat, ambient and groove bass. And after the "Alpha Male"'s massive feel we seddle down with "Someone like me" which is a really nice dark and athmospheric pop tune. In the end we let things get really peaceful with "Dead to the world" which is like Brian eno and Twin Peaks mixed with Tangerine dream. And "Tristesse Global" leads out which more like an outro to the record.
Again Röyksopp proves that they are able to make a nice working album which has enough variations and different leves that listener won't get bored. And very often in electronic music album's tend to be way too long and i'm happy that Röyksopp has again kept they record tight and quite short.
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on 6 November 2006
I can see why so may contrasting reviews have been written for this album. Unfortunately, Royksopp have been a victim of their debut album's success and whatever they produced 2nd time round would be compared with the exceptional and original Melody AM. My advice is to try and forget about comparing the albums and just enjoy the 2nd one, which is quite different but has a definite Royksopp sound to it. It is an album which takes a few listens but eventually, it really grows on you. And, to be honest I can't really define why. It just works. I can see why some folk won't like this ( comparing it to the 1st album) but take it for its own worth and listen. You'll be whapping it on again and again just to see why you like it so much...Catchy.
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on 3 August 2005
I loved Melody AM and I wasn't expecting this to be anywhere near as good. After a few days of hearing this I played Melody AM and I decided it was a better album.
But I've been strangely addicted to The Understanding and I've been playing it continously for the last month. Now I can't get enough, and apprecriate that this is a very different album to Melody AM, but equally as good, if not better. Granted, it doesn't have any tracks like So Easy and Eple which will be known and remembered by everone, but overall it provides a very mellow, upbeat sound which really does make it a true summer album.
I have to mention What Else Is There? which immediately grabbed my attention from the second I heard it, the female vocals are unlike anything else I've heard, so much passion and intensity.
Other higlights are Only This Moment and Cicuit Breaker, two of the most upbeat tracks. There are a couple of really good chillout tracks to so it has a bit of everything.
However, if you really don't go for the euro sound then you might be put off by this album, like I was at first, but I've got used to it. 49 Percent is the the only track that's so euro-poppy that I have to skip it.
I would rate this between 4 and 5 but because it will be the anthem of summer 2005 for me, I have to push it up to a 5.
Enjoy!
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on 6 August 2005
If you buy this album (which you should undoubtedly do), please don't attempt to compare this with their last album.
Yes, the distinctive, awesome sound of Royksopp is there - but they've grown up.
Its more than just appealing to public through the medium of adverts on TV. Its about making some absolutely cracking tracks. Ones which you'll be listening to for a hell of long time.
Tracks which stand out on this album are:
1. Only this Moment - First time I heard this was on MTV about 2 weeks before the album was released. This track makes the hair of your neck stand up EVERY time you listen to it. Hats off to Royksopp for this beautiful song.
2. Sombre Detune - Bassy, complex, street sound - it'll find every rattle in your car.
3. Beautiful Day Without You - First time i heard this, i wasn't bowled over. But, it certainly grows on you. With a main 'squashed' beat and gentle lyrics - this is a strange, but definitely unique song.
4. Alpha Male - Probably the best song on the album. It's just the pure progressiveness of this song that catches your attention. It's worth every WATT your stereo has to offer.
5. Boys - Similar to Sombre Detune, with a down-right funky beat.
Make sure you buy the Limited Edition version of this album, just for the fact that "Boys" is on there.
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on 6 June 2005
When you first hear this album you will probably be skipping through 9-8 out of the 11 tracks. This is exactly what I did. However, I gave it a few more listens for the last 2 days and now I have fallen in love with 10 of the tracks!
1)Triumphant - The album opens with a very Röyksopp style tune which would fit perfectly in "Melody A.M". It progresses very nicely and has a brilliant finale with a choir, heavy drums and synths. 8/10
2)Only This Moment - The first single to be released (and a very good choice too). This is the first vocal tune and features Royksopp themselves singing and a lovely female singing the chorus. Both voices work perfectly and make this tune an eargasmic experience. I fell in love with it instantly. However, it is slighty tedious which is a shame :( 9/10
3)49 Percent - At first I never gave this tune a chance, yet now I cant stop listening to it! It's a very simple song with funky beats and male vocals. It progresses well as each chorus builds up more and more with the introduction of female backing and pads. It's also fun to sing along to :D 10/10
4)Boys - Hmmmmm, the one tune on this album I'm still not sure about. I tend to still skip this one due to it's darker feel. It doesn't really go anywhere, but does have a great middle with horns and strings. :( 6/10
5)Follow my Ruin - YES! I love this tune (it was one of the 2 I didnt skip on first listening)! It starts of with a reverb beat and a funky bass enters. Male vocal dominates with female "aaahs". It's a song that makes you really want to dance! 10/10
6)Beautiful Day Without You - Another "Melody A.M" style tune, which I'm not too kean on. Like all the other tunes on the album, it has a lovely finale, funky guitars and great vocals. However, there is nothing special about it. 7/10
7)What Else is There - Main vocalist is a Bjork sounding female. At first I wasn't liking her voice, yet it has grown on me and now I really like it. It features lovely accoustic guitars and haunting piano chords and strings. This is a stand out track on the album. 10/10
8)Circuit Breaker - I instantly fell for this tune. It has very dominant beats and great male vocals. There are constant breaks in the tune which lead to the fabulous finale when the synth, pads and "aah" female vocal enter together. The tune takes you away as the female carries on and more melodies drop in and out. The only draw back about it is it's very sudden ending. 10/10
9)Alpha Male - Another instrumental track, which reminds me of "Killa" by "Way Out West". It has a 2min build up with woodwind instruments and fading in strings against a speeding up synth line without any beats. Everything sudden fades out and you are instantly reminded of "Röyksopp's Night Out". Pads and a heavy drum beat pounds throughout the tune. At the 6min mark you get a surprise with jumping synths and heavier drums. Although this tune is amazing, for some reason I never seem to want to listen to it (this is the same with "Killa") :S 10/10
10)Someone Like Me - Fans of "Air" will love this tune with it's French synths and soft vocals. It is a pleasure to listen to and seems more like a filler than a real tune. 8/10
11)Dead to the World - What a excellent way to end the album with a beautiful chillout track in true Röyksopp style. An arpeggio harmony throughout against a simple echoing bell melody. Soft male vocals enter half way through with long pads. I'm glad they included only one track like this, as "Dead to the World" is enough to satisfy anyone. 9/10
Conclusion: "The Understanding" is a brilliant return from Röyksopp and, in my honest opinion, it is better than "Melody A.M". However, fans who were drawn to Röyksopp's chilled tracks will be slighty dissapointed with the heavier, funkier feel to this album. In any case, I still highly recommend everyone to get this album and enjoy it :D 9/10 (nothing is perfect)!
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on 11 May 2007
I bought this when it was first released and immediately dismissed it, it was just so different to Melody A.M. and I didn't give it the time in my cd player it deserved.

Now, almost two years later I've had the urge to revisit it and I've been pleasantly surprised. It's a very good album with some standout tracks and a few different styles ( I really like What Else Is There and Alpha Male). Do this album justice and give it the time it deserves...it's a grower.
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