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Posted on June 8th, 2010 (2:04 pm) by Crawford Philleo

In case you haven’t noticed, Inyourspeakers.com is, for the most part, the type of music website that champions the indie artist. In fact, these folks—the hard-working youngsters out there, jamming with their friends, recording their stuff on junk tape machines with junk gear in garages and basements, documenting a very real experience with raw passion... they’re the reason we’re doing this. We’re all the underdogs here, so the job of the indie music critic is naturally the most fun when we feel like we’re promoting our peers for excellence in the field of recorded music. The pop stars are going to get theirs from the Spins, the Rolling Stones, the nationally syndicated newspapers’ weekend editions. Multi-platinum, child-gone-grownup, Swedish-born, and recently rejuvenated international superstar singing sensation Robyn does not need help advancing her career from me or anyone else here at Inyourspeakers. And yet, here I am, type, type, typing away. And yeah, see that rating score up there? Another notch on Robyn’s trophy shelf. But shit, what do you expect from me, huh? What do you want? Body Talk pt. 1 is stunning, and good work deserves good words here, there, and just about everywhere. So to all of you awesome indie rockers out there, you hard-knock punkers, basement bumpers, knob-twiddlers, crate-digging sample scorers: relax, take a load-off. You’re doing great. I’ll get to you in a minute. First, there’s Robyn.

It’s dizzying how much good can fit in such a small folder within the depths of your ever-shrinking hard-drive space. Body Talk pt. 1 is at once painfully short, and packed to the brim with songs that run the gamut from scorching hot to ice cold, and it’s all so pristinely executed in both production and performance. Robyn’s Body Talk series, a forth-coming trilogy of albums all expected to be released this year, represents the finest in pop-song economy, freeze-dried but fully flavored to the max, offering a titanic punch to the gut that’s perfect for your busy schedule (or possibly your daily workout routine). It’s all this and not much more: banging beats, gorgeous singing, sentimentality, humor, heartbreak, and sass all for the modest price of half-an-hour of your time. Impressive, no?

But more impressive is what we can all learn from Robyn in such a short period. How to be cool, how to be reserved, how to be explosive, how to be fearless, how to write a melody, how to hire the right producers, how to make people dance, how to ask someone out on a date, how to do “the robot,” what the hell “dancehall” actually means, how to sing a ballad better than anyone else on the planet, how to speak some Swedish (or at least what a beautifully musical language Swedish can be), and why no matter what, Prince will always be the greatest pop star of all time.

Robyn straddles the line between over-confident hubris and humility-laden honesty, backing up her call-outs when necessary but also letting her emotions get the best of her just when you think she’s being a bit too cocky for her own good. It strikes the perfect balance; she’s your BFF who treats you like shit sometimes but only (you realize later) to make you a better person and because she needs your friendship just as bad as you need hers. But like most pop musicians (and like most movies or TV shows with bitchy characters), she’s most fun during her more scathing moments. In fact, the album’s one and only weak spot might be “Cry When You Get Over.” The textured, lazy synths sound great, and the verses have some truly goose-bump raising moments, but the chorus feels like one of those chord progressions you’ve heard enough times in emo pop-punk to last you the rest of your life. Matched with the live-love-and-learn lessons that aren’t even trying to be disguised, the tune might have you thinking Junior High all over again (and seriously, who wants that?).

On the other side of the coin are tracks like “None of Dem,” which finds Robyn almost calling herself out. Her biting gumption feels directed inward as she wants to push herself and pop music to levels previously unexplored, and for this track, she nails it, appropriately recruiting Royksöpp to provide the intriguingly dark, densely layered and exquisitely detailed beat. Better still is the opening track, “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What to Do,” which... well, I’ll let the title speak for itself. The point is that Robyn is strongest when she’s at her most insolent, with a sizzling wit that comes off as simultaneously playful and mean. But with a gorgeous set of ballads summing things up toward the end of this record (“Hang With Me,” in particular), it’s difficult to ask her to give up that side of hers either. Don’t worry Robyn, we won’t fucking tell you what to do. Just keep doing it.

Track List:
1. Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do
2. Fembot
3. Dancing On My Own
4. Cry When You Get Older
5. Dancehall Queen
6. None Of Dem ft. Royksöpp
7. Hang With Me
8. Jag Vet En Dejlig Rosa

Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

81 / 100
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