Let me start by saying that I really wanted to give the album a 3 1/2, but whatever. Now, I'm sure I'm not going to say anything new that the previous 50-something reviews haven't already, but as I'm a new fan of Royksopp, I feel that maybe I might not be as biased as the long term fans. I'll admit that until I saw the Geico commercial, I never knew Royksopp existed. Hate me now long time fans; I care not in the least. Anyway, I think I purchased Melody AM about 2 or so months prior to The Understanding and was floored by it-ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY FLOORED. So naturally I was going to grab The Understanding (although I'll confess, that I put off buying The Understanding for months because I wanted to hear Melody AM first).
Well, The Understanding...takes some understanding. After Melody AM, you wonder "Why the heck did they go in this direction?" You may feel like they spit in your eye with this one. I guess it takes an open mind. If you're the type of person who enjoys many genres, I can't see why you wouldn't like at least half of this album. I liked "Only This Moment" the moment I heard it; the vocals work so well together and it makes me feel...I don't know...hopeful or something (corny, I know). "Circuit Breaker" is funky and I like its energy, much like "49 Percent". "49 Percent" is my tie for fave with "Only This Moment". "Alphamale" does nothing for me, personally. "What Else Is There" was hard for me to swallow at first, but then it grew on me. It has a sort of desolate, macabre feel to it for me...I can imagine being in a desert at night, full of hallucinogenes and feeling insignificant against nature when I listen to it...and the chick singing really sounds a lot like Cindy Lauper, though not as eccentric. I feel that if you're truly a lover of music, you'll at least like this CD.
I noticed reviewers saying things like "I liked this until I heard it in Electronics Boutique" or "I loved it until it went mainstream." I really hate when people say things like "I loved this until it became mainstream," or "I wish everyone else would stay away from my genre of music." Good music is good music and no one has the right to try to horde music like some stingy troll or rancid dragon hording a stolen treasure. Personally, I feel that if you can't like something simply because other people like it or "play it out" then you're just a fickle supporter at best.
That being said, The Understanding doesn't compare to Melody AM, regardless of how aware I am of the different paths the two CDs follow. You won't suffer a great loss if you don't pick it up, like you would if you ignored Melody AM...but you won't be buying the worst CD on the planet if you get it. I don't know if that helps much, but there it is.