posted on June 11, 2009 19:00
A review of the album 'Junior' by Royksopp
Review Snapshot: After an uninspiring and uneven second studio album Royksopp get their groove together with "Junior", their summer collection. If you listen to this album and don't smile at least once you don't have a pulse.
The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10
The frankly brilliant "Junior", Royksopp's third studio album, puts a lie to one of the great musical clichés: disposable pop. Pop is pop. If it's good it's good. If it's bad it's bad. If it's "Junior" it's an indisposable treasure.
"Junior" is one of the best pop albums this year by a mile, it's varied in tone, it's skewed in its sounds and its sentiments, but best of all it's pure fun. Take the opener, "Happy up here". When asked about JFK Angie Dickinson said he was "the best two and a half minutes I ever had". Alter the context slightly and you could easily say the same about "Happy up here" - it kicks off with a couple of stoner giggles and thereafter it morphs into a Nordic take on the Tom Tom Club's sublime "Genius of Love". Not a note or a millisecond is wasted here and it make you feel like you're fifteen and in love with the world. It's an almost impossible standard to maintain.
In fairness "Royksopp forever", the moody instrumental, is remarkably unremarkable and "Tricky tricky" is a musical itch that never gets scratched. Ignore these and listen to "True to life" – its beats are slippery than a bag of eels, you could recite a phone book over it and sound good but instead Royksopp come up with a moody little droned verse and a ravishingly sweet chorus sighed by Anneli Drecker. "Across the graveyard", the final cut, is the instrumental Air spent their lives trying to write, afterglow soft as soft and, again, summery as a breeze. "The girl and the robot", on the other hand, is a girl alone - "I'm in love with a robot" - waiting for someone to come home. The melody is mildly reminiscent of Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the silence" but Robyn gives it some gripping desperation and isolation:
"Fell asleep again in front of MTV
God, I'm down at the bottom
No one's singing songs for me
I can't wait for tomorrow"
"Vision 1" on the other hand, is the best song you never heard on a summer holiday, best heard in a beach bar on tinny little speakers. It's unadulterated Europop with excruciatingly hippy lyrics:
"Everybody let us gaze upon the world, we created
And must rest our eyes upon the great machine, as we wave goodbye"
That reads awfully but sounds sublime. "Vision 1" is wrapped in sugar and synths and bottomed out with a leathery synth bassline but the lyrics and again, Anneli Drecker's almost angelic tone rip your heart out.
The band themselves say that "Junior" is their optimistic album and that the follow up, "Senior", will reflect their darker more contemplative side. If they are true to their word "Senior" will really be a Vale of tears. For now though "Junior" is all of the things that great pop can be: uplifting, provocative, laugh-out loud funny.