‘The Inevitable End’ is the Norwegian duo’s fifth and final album, but it’s less a fond farewell and more a dying breath. As the title suggests, it’s an album drenched in overwhelming melancholy, an album that sonically embraces death.
It’s miles away from the playful joie de vivre of previous releases like ‘Melody AM’ and ‘Junior’. Tracks like Sordid Affair, Save Me and I Had This Thing certainly have a sense of dance floor euphoria, but they’re the exception. The titles alone indicate the dejection at the core of the album, only emphasised by lyrics like “this sordid affair is ending in tears” and “I brought this house down on myself”. And they’re not the worst. It all begins with opener Skulls that instils a sense of ominous death with its menacing, bubbling synths; later there’s the defeatist You Know I Have To Go that features a flat auto-tuned vocal and sombre wisps of melody for seven and a half minutes; the piano-led Running To The Sea sounds like an ode to suicide; and the penultimate track is named Coup De Grace which you wish would come a little sooner. There’s even a track called Rong that simply repeats the line “what the f*ck is wrong with you” over and over, as if the duo are banging their heads against a brick wall.
What did go wrong? Why is this album so oppressively sad? As you’d expect from Röyksopp, the production is impeccable: impossibly elastic basslines; synths pinging like droplets in space; everything polished and crafted with immense precision. This isn’t cold and robotic electronic music; there’s a warmth and humanity that oozes from every beat, making the album all the more heart-shattering. Yet rarely has this genre sounded so downbeat and bleak. Whilst some of their previous material has a darker energy that maintains a sense of urgency, ‘The Inevitable End’ is joyless. As an exploration of musical depression it’s definitely a success, but if saying goodbye is so difficult, why say goodbye at all?
The second track is a remix of Monument, a track that featured on their collaborative EP with Robyn ‘Do It Again’ earlier this year. Yet where, in its original incarnation, the track is a pensive opener that contrasts with the glorious title track, it’s clear now the duo won’t be doing it again anytime soon. “This will be my monument, this will be a beacon when I’m gone” she sings, though if Röyksopp leave behind any legacy, it won’t be this album. They are a duo who will be remembered for giving life to the likes of Eple, The Girl And The Robot and Only This Moment, not for self-destructing in their final hour.
I Had This Thing
Listen: ‘The Inevitable End’ is available now.