The Norwegian Air loses its chill
For a while there Röyksopp’s 2001 debut Melody A.M. was almost as ubiquitous as Moby’s Play,
as both landed a track on every downtempo compilation in the racks. But Torbjørn Brundtland and Svein Berge took their time with the follow-up, and from the beginning it’s apparent they were ready to try something different. “Triumphant” opens with a dramatic piano figure and builds a wall of sound verging on bombast, setting the tone for a record of expansive and crystalline electro-pop. Vocals pepper roughly half the tracks, some from guest divas (Karin Dreijer on “What Else is There?” ably channels Björk’s intensity), but mostly from the guys in the producers’ chairs. Too fey and European to find a home on American radio, The Understanding is nonetheless perfect for a top-down ride to the beach. Huh, a summer record from the Arctic Circle? Well, in Röyksopp’s home, Tromsø, the June sun shines 24 hours a day, so why not?