Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Robyn Goes Back To The Future

Body Talk Pt. 3 came out yesterday, fulfilling Robyn's newest perfect pop formulation. Pt. 1, released last spring, was a mixed bag of dance-pop (Dancing On My Own, Fembot), electro-hip-pop (None Of Dem), and avant garde or unexpected acoustic tracks (Don't Fucking Tell Me What To Do, Jag vet en delig rosa). The song Hang With Me takes up real estate on parts one and two of Body Talk--acoustic on the first and mixed perfectly on the second. Body Talk Pt. 2 overall is edgier, with explicit (but fun) tracks like Criminal Intent and U Should Know Better, featuring Snoop Dogg. Part two ends with the stunning ballad Indestructible--Acoustic Version. From that name, we knew to expect a dance mix on Body Talk Pt. 3. Robyn doesn't disappoint.

Just as she did with her two versions of Hang With Me, Robyn pulls off the rare trick of making both an acoustic and an electronic-mixed version of Indestructible sound like the original. The acoustic version is as close as Robyn gets to a power ballad; the part three version is power pop. On the whole, Body Talk Pt. 3--brief at five tracks--is the most cohesive third of the trilogy.

On yesterday's issue, every song is pure dance-pop--no balladry, no hardcore. In Indestructible, she opens the EP singing, "I'm going back through time at the speed of light." The sound is very retro--a sonic theme that continues through every song on the EP. When she revs up her Time Machine engine (the second song on the album), we're solidly in the 1980s. And if you weren't sure from what decade Robyn was pulling, she gives you a handy Back to the Future reference ("All I need is a time machine/All I want is a delorean"), which is the song's extended metaphor. Call Your Girlfriend, the third song, opens with a fairly contemporary sound, but we're in full ABBA mode by the chorus. You'll love it, even if you didn't know how much you missed Electric Light Orchestra. Get Myself Together and Stars 4-Ever would have been perfect in the mid-90s, and they're pretty perfect now (although probably the weakest two songs on this mini-album, in my opinion).

Considered as a whole, Body Talk--parts one, two, and three put together--make for an astonishingly polished, diverse, and failure-free album. Normally an album with 24 original songs has some serious misfires, but at its worst, the weakest songs in the bunch (In My Eyes, Love Kills) are better than serviceable. It's incredible that Robyn isn't better known in the U.S., but at least she's appreciated by critics and the people who know her music.

Here's a taste of Part 3, if you're one of the sad few who don't have the album yet. Let's go back in time...

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