Of all the directions Röyksopp could have taken after the perfectly chilled-out ambience of Melody A.M.
, "Eurovision contenders" is one that few listeners would have guessed. If The Understanding
is any indication, the duo have foregone all notions of soundtracking a million comedowns in favor of becoming European chart mainstays, with the odd dancefloor hit thrown in to provide a little extra cash. "Circuit Breaker" and "Only This Moment", with their insistent beats and mindless vocals, will help them reach this goal.
At the same time, it's hard to imagine anyone actively seeking out The Understanding. Even when Röyksopp make a stab for artistic credibility, as they do with the Björk-meets-dance air of "What Else Is There?", there's nothing distinctive about it. If songs like "Beautiful Day Without You" become Top 40 hits here or across the Atlantic, it'll be because people call into their favourite radio stations trying to hum the tune, not because they'll know who they're asking for. It's hard to begrudge or quibble with any artist who simply moves from one commercially popular, artistically suspect genre (chillout) to another (Europop), but it's still disappointing to hear a band be as blatant in their intentions as Röyksopp are on The Understanding.