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Robyn's heart-racing 'Body' language

BY CHLOE STACHOWIAK
For the Daily
Published November 21, 2010

With the release of her third and final album of 2010, Swedish artist Robyn is back with the same beats and energy that have already carried her to the top of Scandinavian pop charts this year. The musical spawn of a fresh-voiced Madonna and a house-music DJ, Body Talk blends moods, sounds, and yes, even songs from the other two parts of the series.

In fact, only one-third of Body Talk is actually new to the music world. The other 10 songs have been plucked from the older phases of the Body Talk series in order to, in her own words, “create a turbo version of the Body Talk album.”

For an album seething with rapid pop ballads, techno beats and robot references, “turbo” is an accurate descriptor. This could be a fast-paced soundtrack to both a dance club and an Abercrombie & Fitch store. In all 15 songs, the artist’s energy never dies down. The work mixes up the sound with both sugary pop and heavier techno elements, resulting in a catchy and diverse album.

The opening song “Fembot” perhaps best exemplifies this musical blend. While the first lines of the track are almost irritatingly pop-infused, bordering on the sound of a playground clapping game, the song takes a dynamic turn almost instantly. The light, overly melodic vocals continue throughout the song and are matched with a low, quick bass line, creating a pleasant balance between the two extremes. The robot-related sexual innuendos juxtapose with the fluffy sound of the vocals. It’s hard to ignore the “automatic booty application” references and persistent moaning that drones in the background.

The mood of the second song takes a direct turn away from the first. “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What to Do” lacks the overwhelming melody heard in “Fembot.” On the track, she speaks the lyrics rhythmically over a thumping bass. The result is an edgier, more dancehall-inspired sound, but one that doesn’t feel at all out of place with the other songs.

The rest of the album continues to bounce between radio-pop and techno DJ. Tracks like “Hang with Me” ache with predictably poppy themes, with lyrics about infatuation and heartbreak cooing in the choruses.

But heavier sounds soon offset these standard pop themes. In “Love Kills” and “Indestructible,” the vocals take a backseat to the powerful beats and electronic effects pulsing through the songs. Snoop Dogg even makes a startling appearance in “U Should Know Better,” adding yet another edge to the pop artist’s work.

Even with the interplay between different extremes of pop and techno-based songs, Body Talk still carries an air of tediousness. Though the songs vary enough in bass and vocals, this “turbo version” of the series lacks the slower, more vulnerable tracks of the first two editions. In fact, there isn’t one slow song on the entire album. This drains some of the dynamism heard in Body Talk parts I and II, which offer the listener a few softer acoustic tracks to cleanse the eardrums between dance beats.

If Robyn’s goal for the final part of her Body Talk series was to create a “turbo version” of her music from 2010, she has succeeded. Though a heart-racing album may not be a good choice for someone suffering from high blood pressure, Body Talk offers enough addictive beats and sticky-sweet pop melodies to satisfy Robyn devotees and newcomers alike. And even if Robyn’s latest fails to impress, at least Snoop is there for a minute or two.