Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Röyksopp / The Understanding / Rating 8.1

Pitchfork gave it an impressive 8.1. Time Out NY mentions it having “ecstatic energy”. NME calls it “gorgeous”. Tour dates are already selling out, stores are selling it like hot cakes and yet I found this cd so frightfully dull that I feel bad for the Röyksopp fans who waited four years for this sedative to be available for purchase.

The warning that something has gone terribly askew with this band begins with their cover art. Nu-metal bands around the world must be pissed that some Norwegian electro two-piece beat them to the surreal punch. A pipe organ with ribbons, a girl in all white twisting her head in ecstasy or in a poltergeist fit, two shadowy figures in masks lurking in the foreground, and sand, lots of sand. The only thing about this record that doesn’t deeply disappoint me is their logo, the Röyksopp font is aces.

PFM offers “Röyksopp enjoy long, silky builds suitable late-night highway cruising, anyplace dim and wide and beautiful”. The opening track “Triumphant” builds like a scene from a made for TV movie, a moment where your mom would be reaching for the tissue box and you might be praying to be anywhere other than in the same room with something so predictable and artificially dramatic. This song is a strange way to start off the release with but if you weren’t scared by the art in first place than this beginning might not offend you either.

The rest of “The Understanding” does comical things to my mind. I imagine spinning classes releasing a musky sent as they sweat to “ Only This Moment” or “49 Percent”. “Sombre Detune” brings back flashbacks to that ancient dance floor hit by Robyn “Show Me Love” only its being played on the wrong speed, a boring instrumental slower speed. The 8 minutes and 11 seconds of “Alpha Male” made wish I owned an ELP record which surely has a comparable lengthy synth jam capable of not putting me sleep. New Age shops around the world will enjoy selling crystals and essential oils to “Dead to the World.”

PFM goes onto to say “Don't worry too much if the first headphone listen puts you to sleep: That's just your ears overloading and your brain drowning, happily and temporarily.” Actually PFM I dozed off listening to this for simply one reason. I WAS BORED. Sifting through 12 tracks to get to the more captivating moments (my favorites being “Someone Like Me ”and “Follow My Ruin”) was a struggle. If you feel dedicated to the artist and buy this cd make sure you get the limited edition. The bonus disc of 5 tracks is in many ways a more likable listen and is the main reason I will keep this cd at all.

“The Understanding” gets 50 grains of sand sifting through an hourglass filled with thousands.