June 15, 2010
Robyn: Body Talk Pt. 1 (Album Review)
Earlier this year, Swedish pop sensation Robyn announced that her next album, her first original studio album in five years, would finally be arriving soon–in three parts.
Now known as the Body Talk series, the three EPs that make up the collection will be released throughout 2010. The first of which, Body Talk Pt. 1, sees its official release in America today, June 15.
On her latest release, Robyn has taken the winning synth-pop formulas from her essential 2005 self-titled record and applied them to her continuously adventurous nature in an effort to dig deeper–for bigger beats, more texture, and more complex rhythms.
Perhaps no song off of the record is more of a shining example of who Robyn is as an artist than the opening cut. On paper, the song isn’t much more than an endless barrage of complaints about the singer’s hectic schedule: “My phone is killing me / My email is killing me / These hours are killing me / My tour is killing me,” she sing-speaks over a deep, building synthesized beat.
Yet this is Robyn, an artist surrounded by a nearly tangible air of cool, assured energy reminiscent of Madonna circa True Blue. She doesn’t come off as obnoxious, which is why each complaint sounds more like one sick rhyme on top of another, all leading up to that deeply appreciated climax: “Don’t fucking tell me what to do!” (If you don’t get what I mean about sounding annoying, just try to imagine Ke$ha singing this song.)
There’s also “Fembot,” the track that ushered in the Body Talk era after its initial appearance on the singer’s website. Infectious and playfully boastful, the song finds Robyn in robo-mode: pushing buttons, flipping switches, and initiating “slut mode”–whatever that means. While it seems every pop star these days is dabbling in technological titillation, Robyn’s supersonic flow just makes the song feel that much more authentic.
Further on, the brooding anti-melodies of “None of Dem” and the bright, flashing lights of “Cry When You Get Older” symbolize the marriage between Robyn’s earlier pop sensibility with her current advances into layered, complex construction (see her collaborative work with Kleerup and RÃ¶yksopp). They may still be dance floor haunts, but construction wise, they’re much more than a simple repetitive chorus and a single bass beat.
Admittedly, the album does feel a bit unpolished toward the end with the inclusion of Swedish lullaby “Jag vet en dejlig Rosa.” While a pretty melody, the song doesn’t quite have the legs to stand as a track in its own right.
At its core however, it is “Dancing On My Own” that embodies the heart and soul of this mini-record; a 21st century reconfiguration of the classic discotheque record, colored by icy rapid-fire synthesizers and flawless Swede-pop production courtesy of producer, Patrik Berger. The song is the purest definition of sad disco, as well as the logical artistic progression after the success of her previous tear-jerking stormer, “With Every Heartbeat.” For this song alone, the album deserves all the accolades it will surely receive.
Then again, this is just one third of a collection. I have no doubt that when the Body Talk series is complete, we’ll have received twelve to fifteen stunning tracks that would make for a truly solid follow-up to Robyn–as well as a slew of B-Side-worthy extras and unfinished snippets to help line the package with additional goodies.
To preview and purchase Body Talk Pt. 1, click here.