Robyn – Honey Words Nick Levine

Gay Times Magazine - - REVIEW -

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 proœy 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.

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