If you are unacquainted with Robyn‘s music, you are not alone. After fifteen years of albums, the general public really doesn’t know what to make of her.
Critics, it seems, love her without question. Even the Grammys, who normally have as much cultural relevance as an epic tapestry, have nominated her for this year’s Best Dance Record.
The music-consuming public, on the other hand, seem less sure. Her YouTube comment streams appear to be a pitched battle between two broad groups.
Group 1: “She’s an ugly lesbian blatantly copying the far superior Lady Gaga/Ke$ha/Madonna/Cyndie Lauper(?) and doesn’t deserve to win a Grammy.”
Group 2: “She’s beautiful and original and talented and was really great on Gossip Girl/Jay Leno and even though the Grammys suck I still want her to win.”
Robyn, it seems, is stranded somewhere half-way between Justin Beiber and Fever Ray. Is she a great musical centrist, bridging the gaps within an increasingly partisan musical world? Or is she simply a failed pop starlet who has been adopted by the ‘musical elite’ because she is foreign and ‘electro’?
Robyn’s third release in 2010 (after four years of silence following 2005′s Robyn) is Body Talk, which compiles the best bits of mini-albums Body Talk Pt. I & 2 plus five new songs.
The sheer weight of catchy material on Body Talk is a strong argument for Robyn as more than just a ‘guilty pleasure’. Sure every song on this album, like the first single ‘Dancing on my Own’, is built on a solid foundation of slightly asinine bubblegum pop. But rarely is bubblegum executed with such technique. The songs hum and blossom with nothing short of a radiant glow that leave’s Kesha’s backing tracks sounding like the demo song from an entry level family keyboard by comparison.
Nor is Robyn scraping the barrel with the five previously unreleased tracks. There is no surprising change of cadence in Body Talk (Pt. III), instead these tracks concentrate on what the series has done best: ecstatic, club-inspired pop filled with massive throbbing synths and arpeggiated bleeps, like Silent Shout‘s younger, cheerleader sister. ‘Call Your Girlfriend’ and ‘Indestructable’ provide some of the biggest highs of this hour-long collection that rarely heads in any direction other than effervescent.
It’s hard to explain how Robyn distinguishes herself from her peers, best just put the record on and stop thinking.