Robyn - Bodytalk Pt.1

Part one of upcoming trilogy
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In December 1980, a mere 12 months after releasing their defining statement of a double album, ‘London Calling’, The Clash followed it up with a triple, ‘Sandinista!’. A massively underrated album containing at least twelve of their finest songs such as 'Somebody Got Murdered’, ‘The Magnificent Seven’, ‘Charlie Don’t Surf’ and ‘Something About England’. They stand up in their own right amongst some of their very best material. Unfortunately, the hotch potch of styles and sheer length of the album led to mass head scratching and general dismissal but if you trim the album down to a regular sized long player you have a brilliant body of work.

What relevance does this have on an electro popstrel from Sweden you may ask? Well, in releasing three instalments of the ‘Body Talk’ series, this being the first, you get the feeling that Robyn may be about to do her very own ‘Sandinista!’.

Robyn, who has been making music since her teens with songs like the surprise mid 90’s hit ‘Show me love’ an R'n'B tinged pop track that even The Lighthouse Family would have described as tepid, has been pottering away with occasional success ever since. She finally broke through with the 2007 re-release of her album ‘Robyn’ and the number one single ‘With Every Heartbeat’, The album, however was hit and miss and beyond the singles, there wasn’t much substance of note but it did bring her back to the public’s attention after a career which halted as soon as the 90’s ended.

Robyn hooked up with Röyksopp on their sublime 2009 album ‘Junior’ for the thrilling highlight ‘The Girl and the Robot’ and working with them has obviously rubbed off in the right way with as she has returned with an album which has moments that will blow out all other pop acts out of the water.

A woman scorned normally results in a great album and Robyn has more than a little bile on her mind with a few scores to settle right from the outset on her fifth album.
The intro ‘Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do’ is a long list of various things that are pissing her off, “My drinking is killing me" then smoking, label, manager, ego, heels, these hours, my tour, my dreams and diet amongst others before she snarls "Don’t fucking tell me what to do". It’s either a genuine list of things which annoy her or a clever diatribe on how fame seekers obtain fame then complain about it. Whichever way, it’s borderline genius.

Comeback single ‘Dancing On My Own’ is the best pop song you will hear this year bar none, the subject matter of following your lover to a club to find them kissing another girl oblivious to Robyn dancing on her own with tears in her eyes, is backed up by some delicious electro beats underpinned by the kind of melancholy you’d expect to hear on early 90’s Pet Shop Boys records.

Just as exciting is ‘Fembot’ which has Robyn announcing "I got a lotta automatic booty applications" and other such futuristic declarations over nagging and glitchy 21st Century electro, it’s some of the most progressive pop music you’ll hear and is very much of the here and now. The album does however veer off into the ridiculous and have you screaming WHY? at the speakers. ‘Cry When You Get Older’ is innocuous commercial pop music that could have been recorded by any auto-tuned pop tart clogging up the music charts and the Diplo produced ‘Dancehall Queen’ revisits ‘Dancing On My Own’'s subject matter but over the unconvincing skank of the very white sounding reggae influenced pop favoured by our favourite 90s Nazi sympathisers Ace of Base. White girls should never sing “Tha riddim goes boom boom boom, the same ting drops”. The cringe levels are off the scale.

Although the rave influenced production of Röyksopp on ‘None of Dem’ improves things vastly, you can’t afford any lapses on an eight track, thirty minute album, there’s no time to put things right. The good tracks on ‘Body Talk’ are of such a high quality that it definitely makes it worthwhile to check this album out but you are soon left with a feeling that the subsequent releases in this series will cobble together one amazing album and one really bad one.

6/10

Words by Chris Todd

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