In case you hadn’t already guessed by its title, The Inevitable End sees Svein Berge and Torbjorn Brundtland, aka Norway’s most successful electro export Royksopp, say their goodbyes to the traditional album format with their fifth and final studio effort.
Considering the circumstances, it’s little surprise that their long-awaited follow-up to 2010’s Senior possesses an ever greater air of sadness than their previous melancholic brand of electro, a sound which arguably helped put Scandinavia back on the musical map.
One of several relatively unknown but incredibly talented guest vocalists on board, Jamie Irrepressible almost sounds on the verge of tears as he bids farewell to a relationship gone sour on the ghostly James Blake-esque balladry of “You Know I Have To Go.”
There’s a similarly compelling sense of heartbreak on “Sordid Affair,” a graceful blend of washed-out synths and muted beats fronted by Man Without Country’s Ryan James. Closer “Thank You,” meanwhile, finds a heavily vocodered Royksopp expressing their gratitude to the fans who have stuck by them since 2001 debut Melody AM over a wave of elastic basslines and suitably mournful piano chords.
The Inevitable End probably isn’t the album to kickstart your all-night house party then, but it’s not entirely devoid of uptempo moments either, even if the pair’s self-proclaimed “dark energy” still seeps throughout.
A reworking of the standout from their recent collaborative EP with Robyn (who also makes an appearance on the string-soaked paranoia of “Rong”), “Monument” sees the duo ramping up the throbbing basslines of the original and removing its smooth jazz outro to create one almighty slab of glacial electro. Elsewhere, Susanne Sundfor justifies her reputation as Norway’s hidden treasure by lending her soaring vocals to the pleading and propulsive synth-pop of “Save Me” and the slow-building shimmer of “Running Up To The Sea.”
Having stated that they still intend to make music together, The Inevitable End thankfully isn’t the final chapter of Royksopp’s career. But bursting with ideas, it’s a typically engaging record which leaves you thinking that they may have called time on the conventional studio effort just a little too prematurely.