Saturday, June 12, 2010

Album Review: Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1 (4/5)

After setting the dance pop world on fire with Robyn, the Swedish singer returns with the first in a planned three-part series, Body Talk. Part 1 consists of eight songs, including the first single "Dancing on My Own," a charged dance pop hit-in-waiting along the lines of "With Every Heartbeat," her recent UK #1 hit.

"Don't Fucking Tell Me What to Do" sets the stage with a pretty minimalist arrangement of beats, synth tones and spoken lines like "my drinking's killing me, my smoking's killing me, my PMS is killing me...." etc. Robyn transforms herself into an android on "Fembot," inspired by the villainous robots from Bionic Woman and Austin Powers fame.

"Cry When You Get Older" cranks up the synths and the '80s beats. It's a definite highlight, and would make a good choice as a single. As you'd expect, "Dancehall Queen" tosses in a bit of Caribbean flavor, but not in an unwelcome way. "None of Dem" pumps up the bass for a late-night dancefloor workout.

Turning off the synthesizers and drum machines for a minute, Robyn delivers an earnest, string-laden love ballad with "Hang with Me." It's a nice melody, although her mild vocal chops are more of a handicap here than on her usual uptempo stuff. "Jag Vet en Dejlig Rosa," a traditional Swedish song whose title means "I know of a lovely rose," closes the album on a somber, tender note.

There's an feeling of removal with these songs--a rather manufactured quality, akin to Sweden's other major export (i.e. Ikea furniture). I suppose the shorter length gives Robyn fewer opportunities to show her quirky side. Yet these songs adhere pretty close to the winning sound found on Robyn, so while they won't set the world on fire, they deliver some good moments and will please her fans.

Best: Dancing on My Own, Cry When You Get Older, Fembot

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