I make no qualms about the excitement I have surrounding the 2010 endeavors of Swedish singer Robyn. On Tuesday, she premiered her first of three albums slated for release this year — “Body Talk, Part 1.” As I expected it would be, the nine-track album is one of the best I’ve heard so far this year.
Most folks on U.S. shores thought Robyn was a one-hit wonder following her prolonged absence after 1997 breakthrough song “Show Me Love” on BMG’s Jive Records label. But in 2008, she made an unprecedented comeback with Interscope (Universal), when many of her American fans had left her as a footnote in their musical mix tapes. Her eponymous comeback album, featuring a new electro-sound, (which preceded the ascension of one Lady Gaga) produced the hit songs “Handle Me” and “With Every Heartbeat,” which were (at least in this reviewer’s mind) the best of her career.
With “Body Talk, Part 1,” Robyn has outdone herself yet again. Lead single, “Dancing on my Own,” is perhaps one of my favorite pop songs of all time. The chorus, with its heart-breaking plea of watching a lost love seduce a new lover in a club, is brilliant in both its simplicity and universality.
“I’m in the corner… watching you kiss her,” Robyn sings. “I’m right over here… why can’t you see me?” she pleads. “I’m giving it my all… but I’m not the girl you’re taking home… I keep dancing on my own,” she concludes. Who can’t recall that feeling of yearning for someone who doesn’t even notice you in a bar or club? The heartbreak… the self-worthless feeling… the pain… all of those feelings and more are conveyed here and yet still echoed by a sense of self-love and confidence in the recovery of the event’s aftermath. It is pop song writing at its absolute best.
The tone and theme for the album (and perhaps for the entire “Body Talk” series? That’s still TBD), is set with intro track “Don’t F—ing Tell Me What To Do,” which is more intro spoken word than full song.
“My drinking’s killing me… My smoking’s killing me… My diet’s killing me… My heels are killing me… my shopping’s killing me… my ego is killing me… can’t sleep, it’s killing me… my label’s killing me… my phone is killing me…. my e-mail’s killing me… these hours are killing me….” Robyn begins in robotic monotone, going on to list more of the perils of our modern fast-paced multi-media society.
Other standout tracks with traditional melodies include “Fembot” (for which Robyn is issuing a remix challenge to fans) and “Cry When You Get Older.” Yet Robyn doesn’t limit herself to any one sound. On “Dancehall Queen” she takes on the Jamaican sub-genre of dancehall music, and on “None Of Dem (feat. Royskopp)” she gets more experimental in the electro-pop sound than I’ve heard her to date. The results are superb.
Ballad “Hang With Me” is as heart wrenching as “Dancing on my Own,” and I can’t wait to hear her perform this one live.
Which… is something that I’ll fortunately be able to do quite soon. Robyn sets out on her “All Hearts” U.S. tour with fellow On The Download favorite Kelis on July 23 in Los Angeles at The Music Box Theater in Hollywood. You’d better believe I’m going to be front and center.
It’s a big week for Robyn – with her 31st birthday last Saturday and her album release, so Happy Birthday Robyn!
“Body Talk, Part 2” is currently set for release in early August in the UK, although no U.S. release date has been set yet.