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Robyn Body Talk, Pt. 2: Music Review

Emily Wilson |
September 8, 2010 | 2:17 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Robyn (photo courtesy of Konichiwa Records)
Robyn (photo courtesy of Konichiwa Records)
It's only been three months.

After all, prior to the June release of Body Talk, Pt. 1, fans of Robyn, the Swedish dance-pop artist, had waited five years for new music.

But now, it's only been three months, and already there's more. Body Talk, Pt. 2, the second installment in a three-part EP series, was released Tuesday, giving listeners a similar, but more consistently danceable album than the first.

While it is true that the two separate EP's are similar enough to have been released as one full-length album, it's also true that the nuances are interesting enough to keep them apart. Not to mention, it's exciting to be given music in a series like this; it creates digestible portions for closer contemplation and a better appreciation of the whole.

The ambitious trilogy project reflects Robyn's own, personal artistic ambition. Her experimental style of electronic dance pop, which has been her signature since the release of her 2005 self-titled album, has never quite fit into the realm of radio-ready, formulaic American pop music.

But she doesn't seem to want that for herself, as evidenced by her content: music that's always pushing the boundaries of creativity, whether lyrically, musically, or both.

Plus, she had a top-ten American radio hit in 1996. Does "Show Me Love" ring any bells? Yes, same Robyn. But post-2005, her aesthetics and interests seem to have shifted to a more artistic, more electronically experimental and decidedly less mainstream mentality.

This eight-song EP, which is almost frustratingly short on time, somehow still manages to pack variety in word and sound.

The first single, "Hang With Me," which was featured on Pt. 1 as an acoustic ballad, is on Pt. 2 as a catchy, yet subtle, dance hit with just enough punch to punctuate the lyrics of potential heartbreak.

While some songs, like "In My Eyes" showcase Robyn's natural, pure vocal ability, others mask it for the sake of experiment.

On "We Dance to the Beat," Robyn's voice, through effect, sounds completely robotic, as she mechanically delivers lyrics like, "We dance to the beat of your brain not evolving fast enough," and "we dance to the beat of raw talent wasted," both over a dance beat that would make even the most robotic personality tap a toe. And the same irresistibility goes for seven of the eight tracks, really.

The dance-pop production on the album, much of which can be attributed to producer Klas Ahlund, is extremely crisp and effective. It's very, very difficult to sit still while listening to this album.

But there is a twist.

On the EP's final track, "Indestructible," all tricks of the tech-trade are stripped away, as Robyn sings with only violins at her back. Her soulful, emotional rendition, teamed with lyrics of fear and love, beautifully juxtaposes the rest of the fast-paced album.

That song serves as a reminder that Robyn could easily, and successfully, craft an entire album of ballads, if she were interested in doing so.

But thankfully, she has some obsession with dance music. And she sounds best, and seems most comfortable, while singing atop an infectious, electronic beat.

To reach reporter Emily Wilson, click here.



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