Review of Running to the Sea by Royksopp
Slightly strange release patterns for modern choons mean that Royksopp are releasing a new track this week, Running To The Sea, which has been available on Youtube for about a year. Despite the rigours of the release schedule, it’s a whistful, strong song and has a wonderful accompanying track in the shape of Something In My Heart.
The Norwegian band have been around for over 15 years and have played hopscotch with styles and vocalists. Unlike contemporaries like Lemon Jelly they eschewed full-on wackiness for pulsating loneliness with a lot of commercial success (and often soundtracks-to-commercials success.) They’ve not exactly pushed the longship out when it comes to rapidity of releases, with a quality album every 3-4 years, but their stuff is moody, melodic and melodramatic in all the right ways.
Royksopp mention influences such as Vangelis, Art of Noise and the incredibly (re)current Giorgio Moroder. Running To The Sea evokes images of silhouettes speeding across a Tony Scott-style colour-flooded LA vista. They claim to have written it in two days for a TV appearance (probably the one here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMlJ78-7rZ4) I wouldn’t mind two days’ work that paid off like that – it’s going to be huge.
But the great surprise for me was the ‘B’ side, Something In My Heart, which you can find here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_aFSNB8E5Y) Singer Jamie Irrepressible channels the ghost of Billy MacKenzie, the sadly departed lead singer of the Associates, and one of the most distinctive voices in pop. The Irrepressible’s other work has the crooning, chiming quality of the Associates’ best. But for Something In My Heart he’s gone the full MacKenzie. Compare with a track like Breakfast (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZ_4f4gVof4) and the similarities are palpable. And that’s a wonderful thing.
If you love your sparse, crooning, melancholic pop and a powerful loneliness reminiscent of Mackenzie collaborators Yello (in particular their Lost Again era,) you’ll like this incarnation of Royksopp. Compared to some of their past output (eg Happy Up Here) it’s deliberately downbeat, but for a cold winter’s afternoon, with a shotglass of vodka straight from the icebox, looking out at a darkening sky, it’s the perfect mood maker.
Both songs are available on iTunes right now.
Review by Steve Noble