Friday 15 December 2017

Music: Robyn * * * *

Body Talk Pt 1 (Island)

This is the first of three albums that Sweden's greatest pop talent of recent times is planning to release this year and its soaring quality will surprise nobody who has heard her striking self-titled fourth album, released in this part of the world three years ago.

Don't confuse Robyn Carlsson with the malleable drones that populate the charts. This is someone who does everything on her own terms, and that includes opening an album with a slice of radio-unfriendly electroclash, Don't Fucking Tell Me What to Do, and closing it with a sweet traditional Swedish ballad, Jag Vet En Dejlig Rosa.

All this defiance would be worthless if the songs weren't up to much, but there's no fear of that happening here. Along with co-writers including Diplo and Röyksopp, she has fashioned the sort of flawless pop tunes that has seen the Scandinavian country punch above its weight for so long.

Compatriots Benny and Björn of ABBA would surely approve of the way she marries melancholy with joyous melody and one of the album's most arresting songs, Dancehall Queen, which, in its title at least, references ABBA's most celebrated single.

Elsewhere, Dancing on My Own fuses electronic beats with driving synths and is cut from the same cloth as her peerless number one single With Every Heartbeat, from a few years ago.

And Fembot is the sort of sexy, high-production number that Max Martin was writing for Britney a decade ago.

It may be a short album, but it's full of ideas. A myriad of genres mingle, too, and yet it never feels over-cooked. In fact, one of the things that makes the album so appealing is the fact that each track sounds so different to the rest.

Plus, it's got a real heart. Hang with Me is the sort of acoustic piano ballad that shows Robyn can deliver just as well when the studio trickery is absent. "Just don't fall recklessly, heedlessly in love with me," she sings. "Cos it's gonna be all heartbreak."

On the evidence of this, Body Talk Pt 2 and Pt 3 will be worth the wait.

Burn it: Dancing on My Own; Fembot; Hang with Me

Irish Independent

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