RÖYKSOPP The Understanding Wall of Sound ****

At some stage during the past few years, Torbjørn Brundtland and Svein Berge must have had the conversation about the second album. As Melody AM continued towards the magical million sales mark and the record company broke out the cigars, thoughts inevitably turned to a follow-up and expectations entered the room with all the grace of a tipsy elephant. How exactly do you follow an album which has done the kind of business your countrymen last saw on a sales sheet when A-Ha were in their prime? In the case of the Bergen duo, they simply closed the door, turned off their phones, scratched their heads and created some unlikely anthems.

Bookended by two shimmering, orchestral, Eno-esque passages (the classically-minded Triumphant and the mesmerising Dead to the World), The Understanding is all pristine pop and modern club soundtracks, music to soundtrack any number of days or nights. With every subsequent listen, it's an album that impresses you more and more by how everything slots seamlessly into place. If it's not the Air-like swell of Beautiful Day Without You, it's the frantic, energetic stretch of Alpha Male or the chilled funk bananas of 49 Percent that will draw you back time after time. Whatever happens next, Röyskopp can look back on a job well done.

Jim Carroll