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Robyn Body Talk, Part 1 Review

Album. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

Her first album of three in 2010 suggests she’s holding something back.

Matthew Horton 2010

Swedish riot-pop grrrl Robyn plans to release three albums in 2010, and well she might – it’s now five years since her self-titled triumph surfaced on her own label Konichiwa, enslaving bloggers and buying public alike with its sass and synth smarts. With Every Heartbeat, her alliance with DJ Kleerup which appeared on the international release of the album, even topped the UK singles chart in 2007, but Robyn – a keen guest artist on other people’s hits – has kept her own powder dry these last few years.

It’s logical then that she’s been amassing stockpiles of material, but three whole albums? You’d have to worry about diminishing returns. Instead, Body Talk Part 1 (Parts 2 and 3 to follow as summer turns to autumn and autumn to winter) triggers the sense Robyn’s holding something back.

There’s no doubt she’s made some good use of her extended holiday – early trio Fembot, the single Dancing on My Own and Cry When You Get Older are scorchingly catchy, and laced with Robyn’s familiar cordial of sparkling hook mixed with unutterable poignancy. The thing is, it’s alarming when the first instalment of a trilogy houses so much filler.

Dancehall Queen is superfluous, fairy-light cod reggae – forgotten UB40 protégé Bitty McLean is an unlikely role model for a toughed-up pop survivor like Robyn – and the Röyksopp collaboration None of Dem is a barely more convincing dub excursion. This one’s particularly disappointing in the wake of their last team-up, 2009’s fantastic The Girl and the Robot. Bumptious intro track Don’t F****** Tell Me What to Do implies the return of 2005’s “killingest pop star on the planet”, but conviction tails off.

After half an hour, Part 1 peters out with folk song Jag Vet En Dejlig Rosa, which is pretty enough but really a soft lullaby to put us into hibernation for Part 2. Let’s hope that one’s more about Fembot’s Daft Punk punch and Dancing on My Own’s wounded chimes than Dancehall Queen’s ersatz skank. Robyn’s more real than that.

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