Compilation Review: ‘Late Night Tales – Röyksopp’ (Late Night Tales)

Late Night Tales Royksopp


Though everyone who contributes to the Late Night Tales series understands the vibe that is required of them, Röyksopp dim the lights just a little bit further. Blowing the dust off love song curios and synthesized outpourings kept in storage, the Norwegians scan the AM band for companionship through nomadic small hours. Marginally landing on the side of sunkissed as opposed to the fireside, both locales have a dated futurism or zest to them, your preferred room temperature comparing and contrasting Vangelis and Richard Schneider, Jr. Putting new wavers, including Röyksopp’s own cover of Depeche Mode, and R&B smoothies such as Byrne & Barnes on ice while folk and bluegrassers croon and weep ‘til dawn and soft rockers strum patiently in the corner, it’s a beautifully executed, paced and poised collection to get wrapped up in, as tender as it is kitsch.

The cool gained and luxury projected is done out of what sounds, not irrationally, unfashionable; in parts, it achieves a Homer Simpson description of approaching ‘wuss rock.’ However, it’ll open ears to back catalogs — another LNT rule of thumb — and makes tracks such as Tuxedomoon’s “In A Manner of Speaking” and Thomas Dolby’s “Budapest by Blimp” the center of your wooing with well-intentioned irony atop of genuine endearment. Acker Bilk’s “Stranger on the Shore” is romancing done the old-fashioned, gentlemanly way, showing that a good heart flutterer will go on and on.

File under: Prelude, John Martyn, Johann Johannsson, Popol Vuh

Röyksopp / Junior (Virgin)


Norway’s best export (sorry, A-ha) returns from their sophomore slump with a posse of popular lady friends and a pleasing set of atmospheric dance-pop.

Röyksopp’s best quality—their buoyant happiness—is also what threatened to capsize their last disc, 2005’s The Understanding, which was too radio-friendly for many fans of their sublime debut. One gets the sense, looking at Junior‘s guest list, that Torbjørn Brundtland and Svein Berge felt like they needed to prove their relevance after four years away: Lykki Li, Robyn, and The Knife’s Karin Dreijer Andersson are all on board. Robyn’s “The Girl and the Robot” is a drama class and dance floor gold rolled into one. “God, I’m at the bottom,” she sings over a pulsing bass line, her voice reaching up to a falsetto. “Call me, I’m so alone.” Andersson owns the disc’s climax with “Tricky Tricky,” a six-minute hyper electro romp that builds into a spacey crescendo. Neither of these actually sounds like Röyksopp. Three collaborations with their pal Anneli Drecker fill that gap, and bubbly lead single “Happy Up Here” more than makes up for the two throwaway instrumentals.

Christian W. Smith
File under: Annie, Moby, Groove Armada