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New Music: Robyn

By Gurman Sahota, November 21, 2018 —

Robyn’s new album, Honey — her first in eight years — has been hotly anticipated.

Robyn reintroduces herself with “Missing U,” which feels like an homage to her song “Be Mine!” from her self-titled fourth album in its wealth of synths, although it fails to carry the same power as the aforementioned song.

Though the opening cut is reminiscent of her past work, Robyn brings new ideas to her sound. She returns with an almost-orchestral feel that still utilizes her dance floor background in combination with smooth lounge-music to make you feel something, shedding her confrontational ballads in lieu of more subtly danceable songs.

Although Honey runs nine tracks long, Robyn experiments with new and old techniques, which explains her absence from the music scene. The album uses a cohesive theme, emphasizing echoing vocals in many songs and fluttering synths to welcome the listener. It’s a memento, and as a whole is light and twinkling as you follow Robyn along with her reminiscences. She transports the listener gently through the songs, building off the emotions from Body Talk, her last album, but with a revived sense of quiet confidence.

But with Robyn’s confidence in sticking with simple dance music, some of the album passes by unnoticed. The work is almost gentle to a fault, as Robyn moves from dance floor to lounge seamlessly. There is an inexplicable slowness to Honey that Robyn uses to transition from dancehall to cocktail hour at the hipster bar. The synth and slow vocals almost become monotonous. Rather than an album of bangers, Honey evolves into more of an intimate session. However, the second half of the album seems to find that elusive intersection of new and old, with “Between the Lines” harkening back to her previous work’s familiarity.

There are winners in the album, though after eight years, I expected I would be greeted by what Robyn best represents — dancehall royalty.

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