Last year, Röyksopp made the album we were expecting from Air. While Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel were busily transforming themselves into an Alan Parsons tribute band, the Norwegian duo Röyksopp (which means "Puffball") arrived with their debut album, Melody AM, a subtle amalgam of New Order, Daft Punk and To Rococo Rot that brimmed with melancholy and mischief. Their sound has been variously described as "ambient lounge-pop", "progtronica" and – most unflattering of all – "chill-out music for the Millennium", though, given that they've appeared on any number of crappy compilation albums, you could say they asked for that one.
Whatever you choose to call it, theirs is the kind of politely unobtrusive music that could gently send you into a coma when played live. Fortunately, the Norwegian duo have clocked the potential pitfalls and beefed up their sound with some pounding basslines, a couple of live instruments and a large dose of personality. Surrounded by banks of keyboards and the kind of gadgetry that would have Star Trek's Lieutenant Uhura scratching her head, Torbjorn Brundtland and Svein Berge set about turning their ambient-lounge-pop-progtronica blend into something distinctly danceable.
Brundtland, sporting Justine Frischmann's lopsided haircut and a goofy grin, is an irresistible performer. With those cheekbones, he could have enjoyed a flourishing career in a boy band, but A1's loss is our gain. The infectious energy of both Brundtland and Berge means that your eye rarely strays from the stage.
Berge beats the living daylights out of a drum pad, while Brundtland plays with the buttons, punches the air and dances about like the archetypal dad at a disco. Even the arrival of a grinning goon on a bass guitar (who has evidently learnt his craft from Level 42's Mark King) cannot dampen his enthusiasm.
Despite having upped the tempo, Röyksopp lose none of the subtle textures and graceful grooves of their recorded material. Occasionally, they become a little too Jean-Michel Jarre for my liking, and, if we're really picking holes, their reliance on the vocoder (so 1998!) can be irksome. Maybe that's just a hang-up on my part, though – whenever I hear a vocoder, all I can think of is Cher.
Next to Röyksopp, the LoFidelity Allstars are a mess. Their brash, baggy-meets-big-beat sound (so 1996!) is horribly oafish and, let's be honest, they really can't sing. Watching the Lo-Fis is like finding yourself next to a bunch of accountants on a Friday-night bender. One look at them, and you'll wish you had stayed at home.
Lo Fidelity Allstars play the Lomax, Liverpool L3 (0151-707 9977) tonightReuse content