Robyn ‘Body Talk, Part One’ – Review

29 Jun

The Clash didn’t make a penny on ‘Sandinista!’ (their follow-up album to ‘London Calling’) – they surrendered their royalties in order to make the 3 disc set as cheap as a single record. Their label weren’t keen on this idea, obviously, but The Clash even took care of that by tricking their bosses into thinking it would be a 2 disc set with a bonus single. The album itself may not have been up to much (by all accounts; I’ve never been able to sit through it myself) but the band’s loyalty to their fans has gone down in rock legend.

This is relevent because Robyn’s new album is also a three disc set, only she is releasing each disc separately and expecting her fans to pay full price for each cd. Not only that but they aren’t even full length disc’s, she is calling them ‘8 track mini albums’ and the first one has just been released, labeled ‘part one’. She can’t even blame this stinginess on her label because she doesn’t have one, she owns her label. It’s all a bit of a rip off if you ask me, one album essentially split into three parts and released for nearly three times the price of a normal album. She must have created something pretty unique to get away with it right?

Well all things considered the answer would have to be, not really. There are flashes of genius here but the after effect is frustration over anything else. It’s such a predictable problem but this album is just too sketchy. You can’t help but ask why Robyn didn’t just select the twelve best tracks and make one great record rather than releasing all 24 songs. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, afterall part 2 and 3 could be flawless, but part one certainly isn’t. As I say, flashes of genius but an overiding sense of frustration. First the good stuff…

‘Dancing On My Own’ is as good a pop song as you will hear anywhere this year, even if it does go on longer than it probably should. It pulls off the great trick of being sad and euphoric at the same time; it embodies the album’s theme of loneliness and fierce independence but at the same time it’s a great party song. ‘Fembot’ is almost as good, with it’s twisting lyrics and futuristic beats. ‘Cry When You Get Older’ completes the trilogy of great songs, this one taking a slightly more melancholic turn with its universally applicable lyrics about growing up in the modern world.

The album opens on a slightly more bewildering note, with a disarming tirade against the world called ‘Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do’. It begins as an irritating  Lady Gaga pastiche before evolving into a self-important rant that is as irritating as it is rather addictive. Less interesting, though certainly less inflammatory, is the inoffensive and somewhat bland ‘Dancehall Queen’ which doesn’t sound anymore sophisticated or colourful than a Christina Aguilara album track. ‘None of Dem’ is also a chore until the final minute when it comes to life in a way that’s slightly predictable but satisfying nonetheless.

‘Hang With Me’ shows off Robyn’s voice nicely which makes you wonder why this isn’t done more often as she really has a rather powerful and distinctive vocal range. The album ends with what I assume is a Swedish folk ballad, and it’s nothing more or less than that. It’s quite an unassuming end to an album that ultimately feels very assuming and very self-important. Robyn is an artist who straddles the line between commercial pop music and artistic pop music, with one foot in each camp she is able to produce chart friendly singles and more experimental but still accessable tracks. It does not make for a particularly comfortable or coherent album, I was left extremely confused as to who exactly Robyn is and who she wants to be. But’s it’s definatley worth downloading the four best tracks, and I will still look forward to hearing part two. It’s just a disappointment that this wasn’t crafted into something more substantial because if it had been then this could have been a very good album indeed.

7/10

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