“Junior” brings us to the present day, and marks the release of their third album proper. The third album can be an interesting beast – some artists find it problematic, as ideas dry up, other artists release classics that sometimes even redefine genres. So where will this effort, with its abundance of female singers this time (Robyn, Lykke Li, Karin Dreijer Andersson, Anneli Drecker), place?
Well, it all starts off very jollily – happy, bouncy bouncy melodies and acid squiggles make up the opener “Happy up Here”, a bit of an overexcited kid in a case of having too much sugar moment if you ask me, but OK all the same. “The Girl and the Robot” makes a claim for the perfect electropop record, it seems fitting then that current pop-fave Robyn provides the vocal here. As does the slightly better “This Must Be It”, having all the required elements – saccharine sweet vocals (provided by Karin Dreijer Andersson of iconoclastic Swedish techno-art brother-sister duo The Knife), over electro pulsing beat; they're good, but not too dissimilar to things I've heard before. “Vision One” is for me where things get going – a nicely constructed blend of vocals and interesting electronics that give an idea of what Röyksopp are really capable of. “Tricky Tricky” takes the baton further by pushing up the tempo a notch or two higher. In both the sounds are genuinely interesting, and show a bit more thought than the usual electro-growl pre-sets.
There are some tunes to love here though, such as the exquisite “Röyksopp Forever”; the confidence of the title tells you it all. In this track, all the stops are pulled out to create a track of aching beauty, with a slightly melancholy tinge to it. It is pure, mellow, down-tempo gold. “True to Life” on the other hand has a pop sensibility, but with a touch more bite than other tracks here, there is an edginess that keeps you in tune with the music. Both represent some of Röyksopp's best music to date.
Overall then, the album has several strong moments. On the other hand though, there are also a few twee numbers (too many for my liking), which are very polished, but offer little new than obvious commerciality. Not to say that they won't be massive, and almost universally loved, just they seem a little too commercial for my liking. A little over half of this set is underground cool, a little under half poptastic chart fodder. The next album could be the real clincher then for me, as it could really define the direction Röyksopp will take – pop charts or dance floor, it seems more than ever that a decision will need to be made. Stay tuned listeners, stay tuned...