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Senior

Röyksopp

Senior
Released 10 September 2010
Producer Röyksopp
Label Wall of Sound
Length 47:50
Genre Electronic
Website royksopp.com
78

First of all, a brief history of Röyksopp for those who need it...Röyksopp are a Norwegian dance music duo who emerged in 2001 with an outstanding debut album, entitled Melody A.M. The album was a masterpiece of mellow but experimental electronic music, rubbing shoulders with Air's magnum opus, Moon Safari. The two studio albums Röyksopp have released since then, 2005's The Understanding and especially 2009's Junior, were considerably more upbeat than their debut album and would best be described as dance pop, albeit still to the left of centre.

Their new offering, Senior, was recorded at the same time as the Junior album and is intended to be its antithesis; the albums as a pair reflect the two sides to Röyksopp's musical identity. While Junior was the most upbeat and mainstream album Röyksopp have released to date the opposite is true of Senior. Junior featured guest vocal performances on most of its tracks whereas Senior has no vocals whatsoever.

The album mostly consists of ambient chill out music better suited to the bedroom than the dance floor. However, there are one or two exceptions. The most obvious one is 'Tricky 2', which uses techno rhythms while retaining Röyksopp's customary subtlety. The track is an instrumental version of the song 'Tricky Tricky' from the Junior album but the version which appears here without the vocals is actually much the better of the two. Elsewhere, 'The Drug' has enough of a house beat behind it to at least set the foot tapping, if not quite the pulse racing. Another track that stands out from the rest is 'The Fear'. Through its darkly synthesised soundscapes, it creates an atmosphere befitting the track's title and sounds like something The Cure might have recorded during their 1980's heyday. But best of all is 'The Alcoholic', a beautifully melodic chill out track with a similar feel to the wonderful 'Ce Matin Là' from Moon Safari.

As for the rest of the album, don't expect it to knock you over the head but do allow it to take you by the hand- this is music to meditate to, music to drift to sleep to, background music for quiet moments. It has to be said that the ambient closing track 'A Long, Long Way' isn’t up to much. It sounds like a discarded outtake from the second side of David Bowie's Low album and much like 'Treefingers' from Radiohead's Kid A it doesn't really bring anything new to the table. And yes, any comparison with Melody A.M. highlights the fact that the album lacks a 'Remind Me' or a 'Poor Leno' but that's what Junior is for.

Röyksopp have managed to create an album that is extremely cohesive as a whole but at the same time, despite the absence of vocals, the tracks are all very distinctive- there is a generous enough sprinkling of melody on each one to give it its own unique flavour. For anyone with an interest in electronic music in the Kraftwerk tradition, Senior will not be a disappointment.

- Mark Collins