Release Date: Oct 26, 2018
Record label: Interscope
Genre(s): Pop, Pop/Rock, Left-Field Pop
She’s somehow still not a household name, but Robyn‘s brand of brushed-chrome, Scandinavian pop has infiltrated every chart in the world – either directly, from her own wildly diverse, endlessly fantastic catalogue, or indirectly via the litany of artists that have liberally borrowed from her style. Hell, you could chalk up a significant percentage of the Top 40 in the past 10 years to her influence. Rihanna? Sia? Madonna? They’ve all had Robyn-ized singles, albums or both.
No one serves up catharsis quite like Robyn. Whether you need to hysterically sob or gleefully and blissfully "move your body" across a dance floor, the Swedish pop diva's Honey is there to satisfy. Remarkably accessible, Robyn's long-awaited follow-up to her Body Talk trio is the purest purge. It baptizes you with tears or sweat or both, bidding the promise of a deep cleanse.
In much the same way she reinvented herself in the 2000s by forming her own label and crafting bright yet bittersweet electropop that provided the blueprint for generations of artists to come, Robyn's return with Honey is more of a metamorphosis than a comeback. Following 2010's triumphant Body Talk, she experienced seismic changes in her life: her longtime friend and collaborator, producer Christian Falk, died from pancreatic cancer in 2014, and she separated from her partner, photographer Max Vitali (the pair later reunited). Her grief and recovery were so profound that the precise structures and sharp hooks of Robyn and Body Talk couldn't contain her emotions, so Robyn dissolves them on Honey, allowing her to engage on a more vulnerable level that spotlights her gift for making music that's joyous and heartbroken at the same time.
Robyn's work urges on our braver selves. Without sermonizing, she shows us the dignity in our sorrow--throwing her heartbreak onto the dance floor, gulping in its neon glow like photosynthesis. Through her music, we discover our loneliest moments are no longer just valleys to suffer and endure: They are deeper, even beautiful, glimpses into our humanity.
The Swedish pop star Robyn has long had an affinity with club music. She began working with The Knife in 2003 as she broke away from conventional pop and started her own label, Konichiwa Records, a couple years later. Since releasing 2010's Body Talk, a pop album loaded with clubby synths, she has collaborated with Röyksopp and Mr. Tophat and released a poppy house EP as La Bagatelle Magique, with keyboardist Markus Jägerstedt and the late Swedish producer and DJ Christian Falk, with whom Robyn had worked since she was 15.
'Missing U', the first track from 'Honey' - Robyn's first album in eight years - feels familiar. Thudding kick drum pounds away underneath defiant lyrics of heartache, and it's as affecting as she's ever been. It's the rest of the record, though, that really excels, pointing the way forward for an artist changing her tune. Assisted by Metronomy's Joe Mount, Kindness and more on the record, 'Honey' largely foregoes the desperate energy of 2010's 'Body Talk' and finds its peace in a quieter, more open space.
On her first album in eight years, Swedish pop legend Robyn brings together jarring and disparate emotions, immortalising them in magical pop amber If you're approaching Robyn's first album in eight years in the hope of enormous wall-to-wall pop bangers, you may be a little puzzled by 'Honey'. Sure, there are still huge anthems to be found here - the bittersweet 'Missing U' is undeniably classic Robyn, along with the viscous pop gold of the title track - but elsewhere there's a softening of edges; that usual urgency replaced by a vaguer, more intense sense of personal loss. Suspense slowly builds and fades throughout; many of the cyclical, repeating melodies and added flourishes) particularly the mischievous monologue at the centre of 'Beach 2k10' and the four-to-the-floor 'Between the Lines') nod directly to New York house music.
The Lowdown: Roby n, our queen mother of electro-dance-pop, has released her first new album in eight years. Honey is a follow-up to 2010's barnburning, life-altering, career-defining Body Talk, which yielded cultural touchstones "Dancing on My Own" and "Call Your Girlfriend". Informed by Robyn's personal struggles, Honey is a softer and sadder album, drenched in beautiful melodies and irresistible beats but also deeply reflective.
Drinking, dancing, sex, drugs, talking, therapy, distraction, comfort, harm - a thousand flips between self-flagellation and self-soothing. Robyn 's entire discography could be characterised as a complex response to heartbreak. 2010's Body Talk was felt as much as heard: its harsh beats and cutting lyrical specifics were a workout and a working-out of abject misery primarily situated within the catharsis of the dancefloor.
I t is eight years since Robyn last released an album. This, naturally, is not considered best practice in pop music, a world where attention spans are short and memories shorter still: stay away too long, and on your return you'll find some young pretender parked in the space you thought was reserved for you. But Robyn established some time ago that the normal rules do not apply to her.
Robyn's last album was actually a trilogy of "Body Talk" EPs in 2010, which included an era-defining single, "Dancing on My Own." It was a club hit spackled with hurt, confusion, a sense of betrayal and yet -- in spite of it all -- resolve. She's invisible to the person that matters most to her, but she's still in motion, "giving it my all." "Dancing on My Own" is one of the most intriguing pop songs of the last decade, and countless artists have borrowed from Robyn's emotionally nuanced brand of club music, from Solange to FKA Twigs. In a way, she's at the forefront of her own genre.
T hough led by the glistening rush of single Missing U - classic Robyn, and a natural inheritor to her towering Dancing on My Own - the Swedish electropop empress's eighth album is less a refinement of her pristine sound, more a deep odyssey into the clubby tendencies she explored so well with Röyksopp on Do It Again and The Girl and the Robot. Honey very much finds its own beat though, recalling the work of Róisín Murphy. It's sensual, warm and glowing, and steeped in dance music history, from the chill deep trance of Send to Robyn Immediately via the sweatily fabulous house of Between the Lines to the deliciously naff Heart of Glass disco bass on Because It's in the Music, a meta tale of love and pain bound up in a pop song.
"Can't take all these memories," Robyn sings one hundred seconds into her sixth album, "don't know how to use 'em." It transpires that the swirling synth arpeggios of 'Missing U' are something of a musical outlier, but the sentiment is one that permeates every strand of Robyn's artistic DNA: the ability to use those bittersweet memories more effectively than any other musician working today. What made Calum Scott's chart-bothering cover of 'Dancing On My Own' so deplorable wasn't merely its grey pallor, but that it missed the point of the song altogether. Robyn songs aren't simply sad, but vividly, electrifyingly sad, as euphoric in their longing as they are in the moments of pleasure.