Junior is a proper fantastic return for the 'sopp.
Ian Wade 2009-03-25
Svein Berge and Torbjorn Brundtland first hovered into pop's hemisphere in 2001 when their debut Melody AM was the sleeper hit – and one of the best albums in general – of the year. Come 2002 and the success of songs like Poor Leno and Eple pushed them into the UK Top Ten via the osmosis of mostly being a chic sound bed for interior design programmes, and also because they had a pop nous that was welcome at a point when the likes of Air were going a bit wobbly and prog.
Since then, the duo released a follow-up: 2005's The Understanding – which didn't quite set fire to the charts like the predecessor, and so you could have been forgiven for thinking they'd fled showbiz for good. So when an MP3 turns up late 2008 called Happy Birthday – celebrating their first decade – and news of Junior's release, it was a relief to see them back.
And yes, what a comeback. Junior is pretty damn perfect. Royksopp's talent lies in updating the retro-futuristic sounds of the past, and demystifying them of their unforgiving sheen into a warm and somewhat special moment. While opener Happy Up Here is reminiscent of a long lost theme tune to an adventure involving clay-mation cats, possibly due to having mixed, produced, arranged and washed up everything on the album, they also called on an array of vocalists to enhance the vision.
Robyn pops up to lament about having a cyborg boyfriend in album-stealer and single The Girl And The Robot; Karin Dreijer-Andersson of The Knife and Fever Ray delivers her unique tones on Tricky Tricky and This Must Be It, while Lykke Li accompanies Miss It So Much. Songs of isolation and disillusion all, but somehow transported away.
Junior is a proper fantastic return for the 'sopp, and is the sort of thing you could imagine sound tracking all the best events in life – whether having a cuppa, or shape-throwing down the rave-up. Interesting fact: very few albums will be as enjoyable as this in 2009. Brilliant.