The Understanding

Metascore
68

Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. For the most part, "The Understanding" saunters along without a trace of urgency, which is unfortunate as Royksopp were always at their best when electronic ingenuity rather than pastel-shaded synth washes were holding things up.
  2. Certain artists’ albums sound like they’re effortless because they’re actually lacking in effort, but Röyksopp’s albums sound effortless because these guys are just that good at turning out great downtempo tunes.
  3. This is the one that puts them firmly and officially up there in the top tier of the dance-music crossover-album crowd, up with the Daft Punks and, umm, Basement Jaxxes.
  4. Sophomore set of the century, near enough.
  5. Takes the listener on an unmitigated aural journey through the outer reaches of electronic music.
  6. Even more melodious, lush and seductive than... Melody AM.
  7. Röyksopp have little left to say aside from what others have said more clearly in the past.
  8. Even the best tracks bobble like a helium balloon tugging from a child's clenched fist... but not quite forcibly enough to pull free.
  9. The Understanding is one of those bold sophomore efforts that will most likely split fans of the duo into two camps, with the Air/Boards of Canada downbeaters lamenting the new direction and the dance-oriented, Basement Jaxx set reveling in the unexpected vibrancy of Röyksopp’s present sound.
  10. Much of the album bears more than a passing resemblance to the second half of [Daft Punk's] Discovery.
  11. Where once these Norwegians were extolled for their subtle melodicism, here their schlock candidly attacks the jugular.
  12. The pair's knack for excelling amid a range of styles and approaches is even more apparent on "The Understanding," which resists the temptation to overtly court the masses.
  13. Even in its migration from the groovy '70s to the technocratic '80s, though, Röyksopp has become a lot cooler than it has to be.
  14. A greater focus on club anthems and straightforward songwriting broadens the band’s appeal but sacrifices originality in the process.
  15. There's nothing distinctive about it.
  16. Under The Radar
    90
    An immersive experience that has unexpected turns and deep emotions at the core of every song. [#10, p.114]
  17. Q Magazine
    80
    The Understanding raises their game, mainly with its careful attention to one key musical detail: great tunes. [Aug 2005, p.132]
  18. Paste Magazine
    70
    Perfect for a top-down ride to the beach. [Aug/Sep 2005, p.115]
  19. Uncut
    60
    More conservative than 2001's Melody AM, with little of the twinkling, yodelling mania that distinguished them from their late-night-friendly peers. [Aug 2005, p.103]
  20. Blender
    60
    The beat-programming is crystalline, the feeling is frozen, the soul is northern if it's there at all. [Sep 2005, p.136]
  21. By turns frantic and tired, jittery and soothing.
  22. Urb
    50
    The tactic [of increased vocals] hits and misses, as the album's standout tracks owe their success to the crew's innovative and polished production, not their lyrical prowess. [Jul/Aug 2005, p.104]
  23. Mojo
    40
    Too much of it passes by easily, leaving little lasting impression. [Aug 2005, p.101]
  24. Alternative Press
    40
    Bland and undistinguished. [Aug 2005, p.178]
  25. Filter
    90
    A masterful submersion in the pop allure of ambient and house music. [#16, p.94]
  26. Spin
    83
    Showcases vocals more boldly than Melody A.M. [Aug 2005, p.98]
  27. Entertainment Weekly
    75
    The first disc's bubbly, nuanced electronica has given way to capable club stompers, more aggressive beats, and, for that extra-accessible touch, a greater role for singers. [15 Jul 2005, p.70]
  28. What they do best is produce exceptional electronica for people that don't have the patience for extended instrumental passages and require things like vocals on regular intervals. With that precursor, The Understanding is probably one of the better electronica records to come out this year that thankfully doesn't involve MCs from Def Jux or was composed on a laptop.
  29. Magnet
    70
    Royksopp's shift to the fun side is exactly what its music needed. [#68, p.110]
  30. The Understanding definitely shows the growth of a young group and the innovation that Röyksopp have been experimenting with since their 2004 debut, but they haven't yet reached the height of their potential.
User Score
8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 44 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 19
  2. Negative: 2 out of 19
  1. Jun 18, 2012
    8
    Honorable Mention for obscure sounds such as Sombre Detune and What Else Is There? (which has beautiful vocals of Karin Dreijer Andersson),Honorable Mention for obscure sounds such as Sombre Detune and What Else Is There? (which has beautiful vocals of Karin Dreijer Andersson), and for the most chill-out-oriented songs, such as 49 Percent and Beautiful Day Without You. A really interesting work. Full Review »
  2. Manjero
    Apr 8, 2008
    9
    This under appreciated gemstone of an album by Royksopp is another great addition to your electronic collection. Unlike Melody A.M., The This under appreciated gemstone of an album by Royksopp is another great addition to your electronic collection. Unlike Melody A.M., The Understanding takes on a more dreamy, majestic aura, which can easily rival to A.M.'s greatness. This new, welcoming light doused onto The Understanding magnifies the mystical nature that is Royksopp. Full Review »
  3. NikolaiNikolai
    Feb 26, 2006
    10
    A change from Melody A.M and a step forward to "the electro cult icon" that Ryoskopp becames with "The Understanding!!!"