In 2009, Norwegian electro-duo released Junior which quickly made it to the bottom half of many critics top lists. This release, like other Röyksopp albums was well received. Personally, I thought Junior was more daring but less accomplished than other albums including 2005’s The Understanding. Nevertheless, Junior was bright and weightless giving everyone an early summer glow. What gave me more hope was Junior to be further complimented by the 2010 release of Senior. In interviews, Röyksopp alluded to Senior being the more mature and aged entity introduced by Junior. Sometimes the anticipation of things are better than the followthrough, othertimes they are the exact same.
Before we move any furthur I have a few things to say. Junior’s artwork was absolutely wretched and I only say that because I think it was intentional. If anyone remembers, it includes a poorly composed photo-drawing collage with eyes, a telephone and a picture of the band. If the art teacher wanted a visual representation of modern surrealism, and this was middle school art class, I could see exactly where this came from. Senior’s artwork a jumps in the opposite direction presenting a ghastly underexposed photograph of the band members in aged makeup. It is almost like the same middle school art student went on to be influenced by the cinematography of Gordon Willis. Before one hears the album, they are confronted by these two misers who look like the less freindly versions of Statler and Waldorf. Röyksopp has put a giant fucking gargoyle on their lawn for this album and if you make it past all the snarling dogs and snakepits; youll find it less hopsitable inside.
Senior was anticipated to be a change of pace and it most certainly is. If Junior was alive and vibrant, Senior is dying in a home somewhere and already gone onto reflections about past disasters and tribulations. The entire record feels haunted; tormented by impossible dreams and requited memories. The moody and solemn ambience of Senior slows the air to a stale green glow which probably hangs now over a cemetery. The songs cycle between deflating downtempo instrumentals and hanging electro ambient passages. It is not the fact that Röyksopp made an semi-ambient record which is impressive, it is the fact that Röyksopp had to make a semi-Ambient record which is noteworthy.
There is an intention which runs through the middle of this record which goes beyond providing contrast for Junior. Senior had to be made for a reason and the world feels lighter now that it is out in the open instead of festering inside someone’s soul. As a pair of albums Senior is a perfect companion for its bolder, brighter sibling. If you can imagine a wretched old man holding a laughing baby; then you are halfway there.
1. And The Forests Begin To Sing
2. Tricky Two
3. The Alcoholic
4. Senior Living
5. The Drug
6. Forsaken Cowboy
7. Coming Home
8. A Long Long Way
9. The Final Day