Royksopp : The Understanding

What do you mean ‘difficult second album’?

Röyksopp’s second album has so much riding on it that it ought to be gobbling coke-spiked sugar lumps prior to the 3.30 at Newmarket. Torbjørn Brundtland and Svein Berge have spent roughly a fifth of their lives touring the chillout-defining ‘Melody AM’ and their label Wall Of Sound are banking on this; if it goes tits-up, the consequences will be disastrous. Compounding the nerves are The People. The People are notoriously shy of electronic acts’ second records. Another Air album, anyone?

Happily, ‘The Understanding’ is gorgeous. Tracks like ‘What Else Is There?’ and ‘49 Percent’ are all slick edges and brutal beauty, seemingly shaped by all the time that’s been spent performing in dark, sweaty rooms, while ‘Only This Moment’ and ‘Alpha Male’ are strung with crystalline disco chips, a million miles from the band’s ambient roots. But it’s ‘Dead To The World’ and ‘Someone Like Me’ that point to Röyksopp’s future. And that’s the Pink Floyd of melancholic stadium techno all the way. Result!

Rob Fitzpatrick