Still shimmering from the success of their super-stellar debut Melody A.M, Royksopp come back with an album that makes tweaks to the duo's style and reinvents itself somewhat with the highly danceable The Understanding, an electronically mesmerizing second effort that takes all the mostly right steps in all the mostly right directions.
Most of these songs are very dissimilar to one another, which produce impeccable variety and a fun-to-listen-to assortment of delightful electronic dancehall ditties. In the album opener "Triumphant", a lone classical-like piano bed is soon joined by the bumps and thumps of a drum machine as electronic pings and hits surge throughout a moody instrumental and epic background, making this one of the most dynamic tracks on the record. As the album progresses, Royksopp go full-force into the realms of electronic dance with the stellar "Only This Moment", which is crammed full of catchy melodies and beautiful electronically tweaked female voices singing over an ocean of bass and high-pitched blips and bleeps.
Unfortunately, the album takes a slight turn for the worse through the middle of the record, settling for ordinary disco beats and boy-band-like vocals that seem a little out of place. It's not long before Royksopp find their creative groove again however, and we're treated to more inspired chill-out anthems like "Someone Like Me" and the calm and extra soothing "Dead to the World". "Tristesse Globale" closes the album in much the same way as it opened: classical piano laid to restrained electronic programming, sans the bass beats and extra filler, leaving us with just a slowly fading opus.
The Understanding is a mostly subdued electronic dance record that stretches the creative horizon for this well-admired duo, and fans of the genre would do well to give this one a try.