Robyn, the Swede with moxie, finally has released new music to the public. After her self-titled 2005 debut release from her own label, Konichiwa Records, Robyn's popularity went from "90s minor success" to "major pop star of the decade." Tracks like "With Every Heartbeat," "Handle Me," "Be Mine," "Cobrastyle," and "Konichiwa Bitches" appealed to pop fans, indie fans, hipsters, and clubgoers alike. And while the album released singles at a trickle, Robyn got 3 official big time releases.
First it saw minor success in Sweden but eventually, in 2007, found itself a major UK release. This led to a 2008 release in the US and Japan, allowing the album to hit all the major markets. The inclusions of "With Every Heartbeat" and "Dream On," as well as altered versions of "Bum Like You" and "Robotboy" allowed Robyn to streamline the sound for the UK/US markets and capitalize on successful collaborations that weren't originally recorded/featured on the 2005 release. Overall, Robyn was a highly successful project that catapulted the singer light years beyond her "Show Me Love" and "Do You Know (What It Takes)" days. And after any major success, the pressure mounts to follow it up with something more. Something better. Something new.
Five years later, the songstress shocked us with an announcement. 2010 wouldn't bring just one album release. No, she's releasing three. Body Talk Pt.1 marks the first of the Body Talk series. At 8 songs, the release actually mirrors another pop entity over the last year or so, Lady Gaga. Gaga's Fame Monster release, which was originally supposed to be a deluxe version of The Fame with a few extra tracks, also clocks in at 8 songs. Gaga's release has garnered really positive reviews from fans, although any two people will give you different favorites from the album. Why is this a comparison point for Body Talk Pt.1? It's important to know your competition, and there isn't anyone out there doing pop like Gaga is doing pop. So what more is Robyn doing to differentiate herself? Essentially, nothing. Body Talk Pt.1 plays like an extension of Robyn, a logical step in the evolution of this distinctive artist. The tone is a bit darker, the beats are a bit more experimental, but the overall feel is 100% Robyn.
Talk about Body Talk
The release wasn't a surprise. Robyn leaked a track with Diplo, then launched a whole new web design for the project with a cute ditty playing in the background. Both actions diddled her fans enough to keep them drooling through her announcements until the first single was released. "Dancehall Queen," originally spread under the misnomer "No Hassle," sounds exactly like the title suggests. Diplo provides the backdrop while Robyn raggas her way through a laid back and bouncy electronic atmosphere. "Fembot," the track that accompanied the launch of her site, showcased the type of new Robyn track fans were clamoring for. Nothing against "Dancehall Queen," but it just isn't the Robyn people have come to love, while "Fembot" just about sums up the opposite. The track is quirky and distinctive with the blonde rapping on the mic over groovy beats and spastic synths. And it still wasn't the single to be chosen from the eight included on the album. For that, we'd have to wait until "Dancing On My Own" stunned listeners into an agreeable state of bliss.
"Dancing On My Own" is as different from "Fembot" as "Fembot" is from "Dancehall Queen". It marks Robyn's continued involvement with producer Kleerup, which is why it sounds similar to "With Every Heartbeat." It is emotive and describes Robyn's night out, morosely watching the object of her affection choose another lady while she dances in the corner with herself. The track has captivated listeners and successfully preceded Body Talk Pt.1, giving fans a wonderful taste of her new material.
"Dancing" On It's Own
Except... most of Body Talk Pt.1 sounds nothing like "Dancing On
My Own." The opening track, "Don't F***ing Tell Me What To Do" is
repetitive, minimal, and robotic. There is little melody, nothing to
really sing along to, and her statements of "My smoking is killing
me," "My boss is killing me" lack convinction. It isn't until she
breaks out the title of the song towards the end of the song that it
begins to congeal into a recognizable direction. Despite all of that,
or perhaps because of it, the track is addictive and entertaining.
Robyn goes for another anthem with "Cry When You Get Older," but
somewhere along the way it becomes messy with all the intentions.
You'll find yourself singing along, and enjoying the heart of some of
the lyrics, but it could use a huge dose of simplicity. She manages
that on "None of Dem," a tortuously seductive dark pop track featuring
Royksopp that also employs some of the robotic repetition of the
opening track for an unsettlingly ominous, yet undeniable