Chris DeLine

Cedar Rapids, IA

Robyn “Body Talk Pt. 2″ Review

Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

The first episode of the Body Talk trilogy did well in bringing a bit more recognition for Robyn stateside—the singer just recently concluded the North American stint of her 2010 tour and locked down the #3 position on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Albums chart. But Body Talk Pt. 1, itself, did a bit to shake up the sound that had been so tightly associated with the singer for the half-decade which followed the initial release of her universally acclaimed self-titled record. Considering the pop-synth that dominated Robyn, Pt. 1 did well in changing the pace of things: Within the album’s eight tracks she used rigid digital harmonization (“Fembot”) and electro-dancehall (“Dancehall Queen”), she gracefully sang over a string/piano combination (“Hang With Me”), and concluded the record by breathing life into an aged Swedish folk song (“Jag vet en dejlig Rosa”). Considering that at the time there were two steps yet to take before the Body Talk series would end, with the release it appeared as though Robyn was on pace to completely reinvent herself (once again). But with Pt. 2, however, she has done just the opposite.

Rather than pursuing further experimentation, Body Talk Pt. 2 reverts back to the sound which modern Robyn fans have come to know her by. Built around the album’s first single, “Hang With Me”—which appeared on Pt. 1 as the aforementioned string/piano ballad—are six other songs that collectively act as a grand reminder as to why Robyn remains such a great record.

“In My Eyes” and “Include Me Out” precede the single, while “Love Kills” trails, each lending evidence of tightly produced pop songs tightly wrapped around lyrics about maturely approaching the highs and lows of relationships; each of which were keystones of Robyn’s self-titled release. “We Dance To The Beat” continues by distancing itself from the linear flow of the album, adding a hollow beat and tinny robotic-vocals which oddly complement Pt. 1‘s “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What to Do.” Where “What to Do” included a detailed list of what it was that was bringing the singer down (drinking, smoking, diet, heels, shopping, ego, email, touring, etc.), “We Dance To The Beat” thematically dips into a warped revelation of what may become of our culture in the absence of realization. “We dance to the beat of silent mutation… of your brain not evolving fast enough… of raw talent wasted… of another recycled rebellion.” It’s a stretch to say that the self-awareness of realizing that her record label is pissing her off and that suburbia is imploding are on the same level, but the similarities between the two offer an amusing juxtaposition.

“Criminal Intent” invokes Peaches before the record’s breakout is ushered in with an “ooo-wee” from Snoop Dogg. “U Should Know Better,” as in “U should know better than to fuck with me,” parallels Robyn’s version of “Cobrastyle” in both pace and sound, but offers the first example on the record of her unique ability to approach confrontational lyrics within the realm of pop without sounding lame, “I declare most solemnly the prince of darkness know better than to fuck with me.” As with Pt. 1, Body Talk Pt. 2 ends with a unique song, in this case “Indestructible” which features a well placed cast of strings. While it would be interesting to hear the track reconstructed for Pt. 3, as “Hand With Me” was for Pt. 2, “Indestructible” is stunning in its simplistic beauty as an original, vocally and musically. “I’m gonna love you like I’ve never been hurt before, I’m gonna love you like I’m indestructible.”

Regardless of where Robyn goes with Pt. 3, with only the first album in mind, the Body Talk series has already become a success. With relatively little promotion she has seen sell-out crowds on this side of the Atlantic, and has gone gold back in her native Sweden. The 16 Body Talk songs to this point have show a new variance in her compositions that Robyn didn’t: she’s added robust non-dance music to her pallet, toyed with new thematic elements, and demonstrated even further why she should be considered one of the premiere names in dance on a global scale. If she’s able to deliver eight more tracks in Pt. 3 that remotely resemble the same quality and consistency, this series is going to be one to remember for a long time to come.

[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]