Sunday, September 19, 2010

Robyn's Body Talking (Again) With Results

Let's try to pretend that this post isn't eons late, literally.

My overall favorite, Robyn, has officially unleashed upon the world the second part of her Body Talk mini-album series earlier this month, and I'm here to tell you (assuming you don't already know this) that it is properly amazing.

Those of you who are all clued in to the know, feel free to hum "Hang With Me" and tune me out. For those of you who are still Robyn-skeptic, please allow this collection to be your formal introduction to the particular blend of Swede-pop that she does so well. Body Talk, Part 2, the obvious second in a three-part mini-album series with the third due in December, is by far in large, Robyn's best release since the epic masterpiece that was Robyn, back in 2005.

It would be a keen idea to compare this disc like that of the New York Yankees baseball team -- it's chockfull of All-Stars. Arguably, in my ears, it's hard for Ms. Robyn to do any wrong, but everyone is guilty of some missteps, and despite this, there is precious little to complain about regarding this particular set. While Part 1 contained the dizzying "Dancing On My Own", as well as "None of Dem" and "Fembots", it had it's share of puzzling moments (to be fair "Don't F*cking Tell Me What To Do" made more sense on stage, and even then it was a little puzzling). Not so with Part 2, as it is 99.99996% pop-tastic in every way imaginable. It's clear Part 1 was just a warm-up, with the meat and bones of the three-part album concept residing in our current set.

The set opens with "In My Eyes", my initial favorite cut off the disc with it's positive message of "It's gonna be okay" and repetition of 'Little Star'. It can be looked at as a means for self-help, a way to pull yourself through and psych yourself up that anything is possible so long as you believe and trust in yourself. The high-gear continues in the bouncy, bubbly "Include Me Out", full of giggly rap-spoken rhymes along the lines of "Konichwa Bitches" or "Cobrastyle" that has come to be associated with mod-Robyn (as opposed to her poppy, Max Martin-y former self that is no longer discussed, sorrowfully).

It continues with the return of "Hang With Me", the thread that connects Part 2 to Part 1, as in the first part of the series, we were introduced to this song as a unplugged softer love-warbling. Now, it's punchier, more electro-enthused within the meloncholy (something only Robyn seems to be able to do so effectively, time and time again, see "With Every Heartbeat," "Be Mine!", "Dancing On My Own", etc.). It's also the first (and probably only main single) from this set, and rightfully so, as despite the consistency of the entire album, it remains to be the starkly sole radio-ready cut. 

From there, we blast into "Love Kills", my current reigning fave, if only for its references to Stockholm Syndrome and for the fact that Robyn herself has stated it's taken on double meanings, particularly towards AIDS ("Protect yourself/'Cuz you'll wreck yourself"...."It'll hurt you forever/Don't you know that love kills?"). The unrelenting electro-stutter continues to lurke in the background, but despite being a rather dark tale, it follows Robyn's pattern of sounding rather up-beat when speaking quite seriously.

Midway through, we have the sole mistep of the disc, the rather bewildering "We Dance To the Beat", which takes Robyn's penchant for repetition to a tiring level and is best forgotton. We move on to "Criminal Intent" which is brimming with tongue-in-cheek moments and more rap-(body)talkin', likening getting down on the dance floor and letting loose to a criminal offense (and isn't it, in some places?). Personally, this is the track where I most stand in awe at Robyn's ability to come up with vividly imaginative (not to mention descriptive) lyrics and is able to spit them in a way is both unique and rich in her own personality. Robyn remains to be one of the few artists in the pop game that can float between eight different genres, but no one here would call her a "rapper" (take that, Ke$ha).

This leads us to the most talked about track of the set, "U Should Know Better", which features rapper Snoop Dogg (but is more like a duet -- what a real collaboration should be, honestly). Say what you want about Snoop Dogg, but he's highly enjoyable here (even from a person who doesn't really gravitate to rap). He and Robyn work very well in counterpoint (and this isn't their first collabo), and he really flys high (mind the pun) when they work together in tandem, rather than be tacked on as an after-thought in terms of cross-genre promotion like he's Flo-Rida or something (::cough::The Saturdays::cough::). The braggacio here (and also in "Criminal Intent") make me yearn to have Robyn's swagger myself (yeah, I used that term...I apologize). Why? Because the whole industry knows not to f*ck with her.

The set ends far too quickly with the softly sorrowful "Indestructible" in all of its unplugged glory. Now that we know "Hang With Me" appeared twice in the series as a bridge to the next piece, it appears that "Indestructible" will be our catalyst toward Part 3, and I'm fine with that. It's not quite the epic piece that was "Dancing On My Own", but I find it more single-worty than "Hang With Me", and is quite possibly amongst some of her best lyrics ever.

I never was smart with love
I let the bad ones in and the good ones go but
I'm gonna love you like I've never been hurt before
I'm gonna love you like I'm indestructible
Your love is ultra-magnetic and it's taking over
This is hardcore
And I'm indestructible

This is why I adore Robyn so much. Not only is she an incredibly consistent performer and artist, she is a dominant, in-control female who is very much in control of her own destiny -- a true visionary that the young women (and young men) of today would be very well-off using as a role model. Part 2 does it's purpose -- whets your appetite for the grand finale that is Part 3 and beyond. It's quality electro-pop that varies in speeds, genre-bending and distinct from any of her other works. The drawback to this is it lacks an overwhelming hallmark emblem and staple cut that her previous works offered. However, when faced with having one amazing song versus having a full disc of pretty damn good ones, I would lean toward the latter, anyday. Bravo, Robyn. Bravo.


Linus said...

Yes, yes, YES Mel! I agree with every word written here. The album really is near damn perfect.

Aaron said...

Can not wait to hear it! - I'm SO far behind on these....

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