Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland might seem like an excentric duo, but the truth is that when it comes to their music, they know exactly what they are doing. And while Junior was released among much fanfare and expectation, it not only delivered, it exceeded everyone’s expectations. Sure, it has to be kept in mind that when it’s about Röyksopp there is only one rule, and that one is to never expect more of the same, and certainly this was no exception.
Yes, I hesitated a little bit during the initial moments of Happy Up Here, as it resembled a reworked new version of Eple (for those unaware, one of the earliest and more well known Röyksopp songs back in the days). It sounded almost like some kind of Eple on steroids, to be honest, but any similarity with anything they have done before ends right there.
Junior is aimed mostly at electronic and dance music lovers, with the inclusion of amazing vocal collaborations by Anneli Dreker, Robyn, Karin Dreijer Andersson, just to name a few. This gives Junior an incredible good fusion of female vocalist powered songs with energetic songs, and the results are remarkable, because it is clear to me that the intention from the duo was not to let anything to chances, as all of the above impregnate everything with a very professional, high standard production values. And while downtempo / ambient listeners would have wished for something more in the lines of Melody A.M., there is almost no room for that here.
Something I particularly like is how densely layered every song is, as you can get literally lost in one particular detail, only to discover much, much later the incredible amount of details you were not paying attention to. This of course should not be a surprise to anyone, since this is something Röyksopp tends to do very often. Probably it surprised me how amazing they have become with time, and this is me judging by the rather simplistic sound they used to produce back in the days of their earliest songs. Not saying that their older albums sound less spectacular now than they did in their respective heyday, but more like implying that instead of staying in their comfort zone they are systematically raising the standard with every new album.
I already mentioned the good amount of vocal collaborations featured, but lets examine them in more detail: The Girl and The Robot features Robyn, swedish pop dance artist. Solid, uplifting electronic material right there, although a little discrete at moments. A more prominent collaboration is the one by Fever Ray’s Karin Dreijer Andersson, featured in This Must Be It and Tricky Tricky. This Must Be It became one of my favorite tracks overall from this album right from day one due to its moving and energetic nature, which is no small part thanks to the always refreshing vocals by Andersson. That track would make a rock dance.
But probably the most prominent collaboration is by German-Norwegian singer Anneli Drecker. Her voice is powerful enough to give you the chills during You Don’t Have a Clue. The complete list of songs she graces with her voice is: Vision One, You Don’t Have a Clue, True To Life and It’s What I Want. But as good as these collaborations are, the real genius move here is having a song that fits every style, since throwing these names here without actually blending them in would have been a total waste. I give Röyksopp full credit for that, they did a wonderful job at it.
Thankfully for fans of the old Röyksopp ambient and downtempo side, they were thoughtful enough to throw us two superb songs that serves two purposes: provide the much needed calm moments in between this electronic dominated album, and to remind us that sometimes you can achieve magical things without any lyrics. Röyksopp Forever isn’t as spectacular as Silver Cruiser, but it is that moment of reflection much needed in between This Must Be It and Miss It So Much. Silver Cruiser on the other hand is brilliant on its own, you can take it out of its original context and it still will shine for what it is. My favorite track overall from this album, hands down.
I would have been happy if this album were lengthier than its 50:55, but all things considered, nitpicking even that would be just too much. This album is definitely still in my Top 10, even 2 years after its release. Yes, it is that good, and if you haven’t listened it yet, I don’t know why are you still staring at your screen…