Royksopp - JuniorIf there’s one group active currently that I wish would release stuff more often, it’s this Norwegian duo. Their dance music, which manages to be bouncy and chilled-out at the same time, is layered, well-arranged, and just fine for listening to even if you’re not dancing…and it seems like they take forever between projects. Then again, they have yet to turn out a clunker of an album, so maybe I shouldn’t complain. Junior, their third studio album, carried with it the promise of combining the best elements of Melody A.M. and The Understanding – two very different projects. I didn’t have any major issues with either of those two prior albums, so surely this wouldn’t be a bad combination.

Junior‘s best tunes – and, by no small coincidence, its first two singles – are right up front. “Happy Up Here” is a peppy, laid-back dance number, and an awfully catchy one at that. But it’s followed by what has to be the catchiest damn song I’ve heard in all of 2009 to date, and one of the best things Royksopp’s ever done: “The Girl And The Robot”, an ’80s-styled piece of electronica featuring vocals by Robyn (still a familiar fixture in the European music scene despite seeming like a one-hit wonder ten years ago on the U.S. charts). The song is not only infectiously catchy, but perfectly arranged and produced – seriously, I can just listen to it over and over again, it’s that good.

The rest of the album is no slouch, though – “Vision One” and especially “You Don’t Have A Clue” are highlights, and “Miss It So Much” is catchy enough musically but hindered a bit by repetitive lyrics. Royksopp’s instrumental honor is upheld by the chilled-out but still interestingly-put-together “Royksopp Forever”. If there’s one track worth skipping, it’s “Tricky Tricky” – maybe this is a point at which I’m just too old for the material, but neither the lyrics nor the music appeal to me. The lyrics especially seem trite and silly; I realize that the lyrics aren’t really the driving force on a dance track, but if 4 out of 4they had to have album filler, surely they could’ve done better than this.

That, however, is only a single song; the rest of Junior is strong enough that it’s still a more than worthwhile listening experience. Interstingly, Royksopp is planning to release another album, Senior, late this year – if it’s anything like Junior, we’re in for a treat.

Order this CD

  1. Happy Up Here (2:43)
  2. The Girl And The Robot (4:28)
  3. Vision One (4:59)
  4. This Must Be It (4:41)
  5. Royksopp Forever (4:59)
  6. Miss It So Much (5:01)
  7. Tricky Tricky (5:59)
  8. You Don’t Have A Clue (4:33)
  9. Silver Cruiser (4:36)
  10. True To Life (5:50)
  11. It’s What I Want (3:06)

Released by: Astralwerks
Release date: 2009
Total running time: 50:55