Album: Royksopp, Junior (Wall of Sound)

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The Independent Culture

Norwegian duo Röyksopp have all but come to define the pleasant insubstantiality of contemporary electropop, with Junior offering the harmonic simplicity and meagre ambitions the Pet Shop Boys come perilously close to on Yes.

The single "Happy Up Here" opens the album with a chuckle, slipping into a catchy synth-pop trifle that's soon gone. Sadly, things never regain those heights, the innocuousness of pieces like "Silver Cruise" and the instrumental "Röyksopp Forever" leaching the impetus out. Such interest as there is comes through secondary matters such as the musical dialectic between the melody of "This Must Be It" and the distortion of its surface; likewise for "Vision One" they borrow the loping bassline from Stevie Wonder's "Too High" and combine it with a jarringly distorted square-wave synth lead line, navigated in serpentine style by vocalist Anneli Drecker, one of a phalanx of Scandinavian guest singers who collectively fail to bring a convincing emotional tone to the album. "The Girl and the Robot" adds little to the basic electro texts of Giorgio Moroder, Kraftwerk and Daft Punk; yet when they try to create a more complex, funkier groove for "True To Life", it doesn't pan out.

Pick of the album: 'Happy Up Here', 'This Must Be It'

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