Published Nov 07, 2014Norwegian electronic duo Röyksopp are ready to say goodbye to the traditional album format, announcing that The Inevitable End, their fifth full-length, would be "the last thing" for them in terms of albums, while not closing the door on music altogether. It has been quite the year for the influential duo, having already released a collaborative "mini-album" with Robyn and touring the world in its support, while constantly dropping new material for short bursts in their many email blasts. In terms of goodbyes, Röyksopp have recorded the best final album they could have envisioned: a layered and cohesive package of enveloping synths filled with addictive hooks. But there's a sad undercurrent throughout the deluxe version's 17 tracks, a bittersweet twinge if you may, hidden deep within the album's warmth. Many of the tracks recall earlier Röyksopp material, a combination of their debut album Melody A.M. and the pop sensibility of Junior, while still remaining undeniably new and fresh.
Their penchant for guest vocalists that Junior favoured is fully embraced, as Röyksopp invite the aforementioned Robyn, fellow Norwegian singer-songwriter Susanne Sundfør, the Irrepressibles founder Jamie McDermott and Ryan James of Man Without Country to contribute vocals to almost every track. While guest vocalists can sometimes be hit and miss, they're pitch-perfect throughout the entirety of The Inevitable End. Jamie McDermott, who is responsible for most of the vocals on the album, offers performances that constitute the album's biggest strength: he has the uncanny ability to meld his pitch and delivery to the material, whether it be his earnest Antony Hegarty-like vibrato on "You Know I Have To Go" or the soft restraint employed on the Robyn-recalling "I Had This Thing," he never drops the ball throughout the five tracks on which he appears. Robyn and Röyksopp's chemistry is by now well-documented, and while her only original contribution is on mantra/interlude "Rong," there's no denying she's probably the only person able to infuse the lyrics "What the fuck is wrong with you" with enough personality and emotion to make it heartbreaking.
The five bonus tracks, while probably unnecessary, are a nice enough way to let the album trail off after the definitively titled "Thank You," with the material recalling the more ambient instrumental territory Röyksopp explored on Senior, with the exception being Jamie McDermott's final contribution on gorgeous closer "Something In My Heart." While we wait to see what lays in store for Röyksopp's future, we can be thankful that they've offered us such fully realized package, one that reminds us of the power of the full-length and of what has made them such singular figures in electronic music. (Arts & Crafts)