It’s been 8 years since Swedish pop icon Robyn has released a full length album and during that time, the appetite for her sad bops has grown even greater.
The album’s lead single ‘Missing U’, which was released in August, is a glittering and triumphant opener. A classic Robyn track, lyrically and sonically, with undulating synths and themes of loss and loneliness, but always glazed over with a sense of optimism. Of course, it’s danceable too. Her voice sounds as smooth as ever and it’s truly an impeccable return to form.
Things take a darker turn on ‘Human Being’, with the production sounding instantly more primal. On this track, Robyn demands forgiveness and respect, repeating ‘Baby don’t give up on me now, I’m a human being’, like it’s a mantra. The lyrics epitomise the artist’s internal conflict between wanting to create meaningful art and the desire to reach a wider audience, without the negative consquences of fame, such as the difficulty of separating their artistry from their personal life.
3 songs in, and you’re already on an emotional rollercoaster. ‘Because It’s In The Music’ is shimmering and playful. There seems to be a subtle oriental influence in the production and the strings on this track do a great job of adding even more power and emphasis to her already incredible vocals.
The album does start to lull a little in the middle, until the title track ‘Honey’, which is the second single to be lifted from the record. Whilst it’s not as immediately captivating as ‘Missing U’, it really serves as the heart of the album. The line ‘Come get your honey’ – and the way that she sings it – completely sums up the mood of the whole record. It’s sensual and alluring, but also dark, as though Robyn is acknowledging how empowering it can be to be single and to have the power to attract others. On the flipside, she recognises the darkness that this brings, the loneliness and how easy it can be to fall into a state of desperation.
‘Between the Lines’ is (sonically) very interesting, and it’s refreshing to hear something so upbeat after a string of moody, sensual tracks. The robotic voice that Robyn responds to on this track may be off-putting to some listeners, but it feels fitting given that we’re living in the era of Alexa and Siri, where technology is beginning to listen and talk to us. This is coupled with fears over the growth of artificial intelligence (AI) and our increased reliance on technology in order to have meaningful relationships.
‘Beach 2k20’ creates a wonderful atmosphere, sounding like it’s set on a beach where everything is so polished and manufactured to the point that it’s lost its value. The way she says lines such as ‘It’s right on the beach, it’ll be cool’ in a monotonous tone appears to mock the lifestyles of the rich and famous. The song has a simmering beat that never drops too heavily, with bongo drums that give it a relaxed vibe.
The album concludes with the brilliant ‘Ever Again’, which is brimming with self-confidence. Robyn sounds self-assured, passionately stating ‘Never gonna be broken-hearted ever again, that shit’s out the door’. Like ‘Honey’, it encapsulates the mood of the entire record and demonstrates Robyn’s newfound strength. It’s wonderful to hear her sounding this fresh and the record is absolutely worth the 8 year wait!
‘Honey’ is out now, via Konichiwa Records.