Danc­ing in the Dark

Exclaim! - - REVIEWS - IAN GORMELY

Robyn

Honey Eight years is a long time in pop mu­sic. At least two gen­er­a­tions of would-be stars have come and gone since 2010, when Robyn re­leased Body Talk, her last stu­dio al­bum. Yet be­tween low-key col­lab­o­ra­tions and remixes, the Swedish pop artist has some­how be­come even more in­flu­en­tial, in­spir­ing a slew of pop­ti­mist-friendly singers and pro­duc­ers as in­ter­ested in mov­ing butts and hearts as they are units — which makes Honey a come­back al­bum and a vic­tory lap in one. Early sin­gles “Miss­ing U” and “Honey” nod­ded to past sonic con­quests, al­beit with some rounded edges, but they’re more out­liers on this nine-track al­bum. Robyn ex­pe­ri­enced the loss of friend and col­lab­o­ra­tor Chris­tian Falk, as well as a ro­man­tic breakup, dur­ing Honey’s cre­ation, and the record fol­lows her sub­se­quent emo­tional jour­ney, with songs ap­pear­ing in the or­der in which they were writ­ten.

The iso­la­tion in which much of it was crafted shows in the min­i­mal­ist pro­duc­tion, shaped with the help of Metron­omy’s Joseph Mount, who’s cred­ited on seven of the record’s tracks (Kind­ness’s Adam Bain­bridge, Mr. Tophat and Klas Åh­lund also con­trib­ute). His fin­ger-- prints are no more ap­par­ent than on stand­out “Ever Again,” the record’s re­ju­ve­nat­ing closer. Fans look­ing for the im­me­di­acy of Body Talk, which bal­anced emo­tional up­heaval with up­beat dance-floor grooves, will be some­what dis­ap­pointed — Honey is a more muted, and at times som­bre af­fair. In many ways, it most closely re­sem­bles Robyn’s 2005 self-ti­tled record, her true come­back af­ter her late ’90s turn as a teen star in the Brit­ney or Xtina mold.

Robyn’s vo­cals feel less ur­gent and more guarded than in the past. Even the coy “Honey” lacks the wink­ing come-ons of some­thing like “Call Your Girl­friend,” and the throb­bing bass line that drives it is less ob­vi­ous than in the past. Re­peated lis­tens re­veal a deeply nu­anced record that deals with grief and con­fu­sion the only way Robyn knows how — by danc­ing like no­body’s watch­ing. As al­ways, the club re­mains an in­spi­ra­tion, but here the fo­cus is to sound­track the night’s come­down, not its ec­static peak. The grooves are a bit deeper, the emo­tions re­main true and, as the ti­tle sug­gests, the tracks are sticky as hell, stuck rat­tling around in your head for days. (Konichiwa/Univer­sal)

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