ESSENTIAL "The Girl and the Robot"
Throughout 2001's "Melody AM" and 2005's "The Understanding," the electronic Norwegian duo of Torbjorn Brundtland and Svein Berge - more widely known as Röyksopp - strongly hinted that they had a proper dance/pop album hidden under their turtlenecks. Embedded in the frosty corners of "Melody" lurked hip-swivelers, and the gauzy creepiness of "The Understanding" occasionally broke for brighter times. But "Junior" grabs a cocktail, lurches at the dance floor, and does not turn back. The thick, hefty beats of opener "Happy Up Here," accompanied by chants of "I'm ready for it!" indicate that Berge and Brundtland are indeed ready to enter into a new musical phase of synthesized debauchery. With fewer instrumental tracks than previous efforts, the band's lovelorn and off-kilter view of the universe finally gets a starring role. Perhaps that's what makes "Junior" a welcome change of beats from other synth-pop offerings. There are no unitard-wearing, platinum haired divas to be found here, just an incredibly addictive song cycle. (Out tomorrow)