It's probably not a secret that I did not squeal with joy over Body Talk Pt 1, at least as a body of work. It plays like a bunch of tunes - of varying quality - slapped together on a disc. Initially, it seemed insulting to stick Dancing On My Own near a trifle like Fembots. Now that we know Robyn really is carrying forth her multiple EP plan, I have taken a step back and can more clearly see what she's going for, which is ultimately an album she, I, we, you can build.
Body Talk Pt. 2 is bookended by two of Robyn's finest recordings. In My Eyes opens with reference to Konichiwa Bitches, but has no real corollary in her prior catalog. With its synth-heavy fullness, it will lift off the roof when it's performed live. It mines the positivity and hopefulness that is characteristic of Robyn's best music (see Dream On) and is solidly, happily radio-ready.
Hang With Me seemed so perfect as a ballad on Part I, yet now we have another tears-on-the-dancefloor classic (hear/see below). The first time I heard the album mix in all its glory, the hair on my neck stood up. How does she do this? Does she encode the notes with some sort of emotion enhancers?
There is still filler, but it doesn't peck as much. We Dance To The Beat must be an attempt to update the grooves that groups like DeeeLite used to pop out, though the processed vocals remind me more of 80's Laurie Anderson.
Lyrically, Robyn's humor remains at the forefront of her best uptempo songs:
- From Include Me Out, this repeated chant: "Can I get the bam bam for all of my whatchamacallits doing whatever and with whoever they like?"
- From Criminal Intent: "I admit I can get somewhat X-rated on the floor, but Your Honor, how's that something you get incarcerated for?"
- From U Should Know Better, the sublime Snoop Doggy Dog collab:"It's ooh lala and ahh oui oui, sipping vin blanc in our lingerie / Chopping heads off with Madame Guillotine, even the French know better than to fuck with me."
Yesterday on this blog, I posted a video with a quote from Kate Bush. She said, "I think everyone is emotional. A lot of people are afraid of being so. They feel that it's vulnerable. I feel that it's the key to everything." This is what Robyn does so well and this is why, again and again, in the voice, the notes, the instruments, her music becomes so personal. "If you do me right, I'm gonna do right by you. If you keep it tight, I'm gonna confide in you." In a perfect world, this would grab us right through the radio and we'd be better for it.
Body Talk is out Sept 6/7 worldwide. See also: 3mins30secs' review of BTP2 b