Robyn – Honey Words Nick Levine
Like Charli XCX and Carly Rae Jepsen, Robyn is an incredible artist whose sales figures – decent, but not dazzling – don’t match her regal status among pop fans. The Swedish singer-songwriter had us on side long before 2010’s Dancing On My Own, a devastating tale of partying through the pain of unrequited love, but that song made her a queer icon. When she sang “I’m giving it my all, but I’m not the guy you’re taking home”, she was all of us.
But since Dancing On My Own and 2010’s complicated Body Talk campaign, which comprised a pair of mini-albums followed by a longer sort-of-compilation, Robyn has kept a pretty low profile. She’s released a couple of collaborative EPs and made guest appearances on tracks by Neneh Cherry and Metronomy, but Honey is the first proper Robyn album in eight years. Fans were so eager to hear the stunning title track after a snippet appeared on Lena Dunham’s Girls last year, they created the Twitter hashtag #RELEASEHONEYDAMMIT.
So, the big question is: Does Honey live up to expectations? The answer, as Robyn fans have probably come to expect, is a little tricky. Lead single Missing U is a clubbier cousin to Dancing On My Own – headier, and more atmospheric – that hints at this album’s more freeform approach. Baby Forgive Me is a 5am comedown jam that leads into the proy throb of Send to Robyn Immediately; the off-kilter house of Between the Lines recalls cult US dance band Deee-Lite; Beach2k20 (sic) is an experimental blend of beats, cowbells and chopped up, euphoric vocals; it’s strange at first, but really captures the excitement and confusion of a great night out that you can’t quite remember.
Honey may not offer the pop crispness of her previous work, but it feels completely like a Robyn album. She still does sad disco like no one else: Because It’s in the Music will floor anyone who’s pining for an ex, and Human Being’s plea for togetherness on the dance floor is utterly life-affirming. When Robyn says “You know you can trust me, right?” on excellent final track Ever Again, it’s hard not to think “100%, girl”. Honey probably isn’t the album some fans were hoping for, but it’s surprising, emotionally powerful, and palpably authentic. And frankly, it’s great to have her back.