It has been a while – eight years to be exact – since Swedish dance-pop icon Robyn released an album.
And while there has not been any new solo music, a lot has happened to her, including the death of close friend, mentor and collaborator Christian Falk. She also had to deal with the devastating fallout from a breakdown in a long-term relationship.
The 39-year-old seems to have channelled these emotionally significant events into Honey, an album of intricate, heart-wrenching tunes drenched in club-friendly beats.
Unlike her best known song, the global hit Dancing On My Own from her last album, Body Talk (2010), her eighth and newest release eschews bangers for a more delicate and nuanced palette of electronic sounds.
Working with a select group of producers, primarily Joseph Mount from the English electronic group Metronomy, the shimmer and shine of her past discography is still there, albeit muted and refined to highlight the intricacies of heartbreak.
Album-opener Missing U sets the tone with its pulsating low beats, gleaming synthesizers and Robyn’s plaintive singing (“There’s this empty space you left behind/All the love you gave, it still defines me”).
Wearing her heart firmly on her sleeve, she narrates interpersonal drama on the haunting Baby Forgive Me. Amid a throbbing bassline and an ethereal backdrop, she alternates between breathy, low notes and fervent singing as she pleads for a reconciliation (“Just let me make you smile again, baby/I know we can work it out”).
There is a meta element in Because It’s In The Music, a disco song about how disco music can play a pivotal part in relationships and foster connections (“And I wonder when you hear it/Are you getting that same feeling?”), while Send To Robin Immediately features a slowed-down sample of 1989 house classic, French Kiss by Lil Louis.
There is a silver lining – she got back together with her long-term partner, director Max Vitali, and the happy reunion is reflected in the radiant title track (“I got your honey, baby, let go of your doubt, say yes”) as well as the sensually brilliant Between The Lines (“You got me reading in-between the lines/And I like it, baby”).
Robyn’s highly influential brand of club-friendly pop has made an impact on contemporary stars like Lorde and Sia, and has been used to soundtrack popular television series like the drama Girls (2012 to 2017).
While her worldwide commercial hits are scarce, Robyn’s Honey entrenches her reputation for crafting pop tunes that get you all emotional, whether you are on your own or on the dance floor.
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