Röyksopp - Senior

‘Senior’ finds the Norwegian duo unwinding a bit with pensive, elegant melodies and ominous beats.

Designed as an instrumental companion piece to ‘Junior’, Röyksopp’s rigorously upbeat 2009 record, ‘Senior’ finds the Norwegian duo unwinding a bit with pensive, elegant melodies and ominous beats that provide a nice come-down after the decadent high that their last album provided. But this album can leave you hungover just as easily, it just brings you to a party in the grimier part of the city and leaves you to navigate your own way home. Gone are the glitzy guest-vocalists and the driving, uptempo pulse of ‘Junior’, replaced instead by darker, more methodical grooves that are expansive and absorbing, crafting a moody ambiance filled with reflection and sophistication. It’s a bit harder to find something tangible to grasp on to while listening to Senior, but perhaps the point is to just let yourself drift away along with the music, letting Röyksopp’s hypnotic strains dissolve any concerns while easing your worried mind, as you come away renewed when the album draws to a close.

‘Senior’ is a highly cohesive piece, with each track adding to the soothing, transformative quality of the album, whether it’s the unhurried introduction of ‘…And The Forest Began To Sing,’ or the tranquil coda of ‘A Long, Long Way,’ each song clearly has a vital place within the sprawling scope of the record. The fun truly starts with ‘Tricky Two,’ an exuberant, entrancing piece that fully ignites the stylish spirit of the album. The downbeat rhythm of ‘Alcoholic’ is kicked-off with the sound of a can opening, a sure sign that while Röyksopp is clearly creating impeccable music here, they aren’t taking themselves that seriously. There is levity found throughout this record, it is just integrated seamlessly within its more melancholic moments, generating both a somber and euphoric atmosphere that permeates the entire work.

‘Senior Living’ perhaps pokes fun at the relaxed pace of both the song and the album, while ‘The Drug’ is an airy, fluid track that is as tranquilizing as its name suggests, even throwing in some familiar video game sound effects for the hazy couch-bound kids to latch on to. It seems like any modern song with ‘The Fear’ worked into the title ends up being a smash (Pulp, Doves, Lily Allen), and that is certainly the case here, as Röyksopp’s smooth, moody take on paranoia forms the stirring highlight of the album’s mellow second half. Having ‘The Fear’ follow so closely after ‘The Drug’ is also a cheeky move by the band, suggesting that the exploratory journey didn’t take the user where they particularly wanted to go, so they would be best served to call it a night in order to recover from what ails them.

The song titles continually provide us with unmistakable clues to the hidden narrative layered within the wordless music, so the album appropriately ends with the safe sounds of ‘Coming Home’ and ‘A Long, Long Way,’ which coaxes the listener back to solid ground after the mesmerizing sonic odyssey the duo set us on earlier. It’s a fitting close to an album that is at once both an introspective journey and a measured discovery, suggesting that we find out more about ourselves through losing our way than by sticking with the most traveled path, which is exactly what Röyksopp have done throughout their distinguished career. And that continues to make all the difference.

Tags: Royksopp, Reviews, Album Reviews

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