Robyn is officially back! Way back in 2010 she released her last album, Body Talk, which earned her the status of pop icon. ‘Dancing On My Own’ was so ahead of its time we still listen to it obsessively. However, this new record Honey is quite different from what we know and love her for.
We had to wait for it for 8 years, but Robyn actually began working on the album in 2015. She was influenced by the death of close friend and collaborator Christian Falk and her breakup with Max Vitali. This theme is immediately obvious as the album begins with a song called ‘Missing U’. I interpret it as a part 3 to ‘Dancing On My Own’ and ‘Call Your Girlfriend’. It has a similar style of beat, quite energetic, but the melody and words are slower and nostalgic. Robyn herself described this feel as “a sensuality and a softness that I don’t think I was able to use in the same way before”.
The whole album carries this sentiment, as with the second track ‘Human Being’ with its many vocal levels. Robyn and Zhala whisper and shout, contrasted with muted and clear backing vocals, making the song extremely sensual.
‘Because It’s In The Music’ especially sounds like she is singing from her heart. It includes an amazing melody, which reminds us of classic disco. Also many familiar tropes from other ‘love songs’, but Robyn’s expressive vocals make the words feel authentic and relatable. Similarly, ‘Baby Forgive Me’ is so simple and soft in sound, but in combination with the lyrics, to quote the previous song: “it makes me want to cry”. It develops smoothly into ‘Send To Robin Immediately’, which in turn is an intro to the title track and works amazingly to ease the listener into it.
‘Honey’ will hopefully finally earn Robyn her first Grammy next year. She needs to be recognized for this as it’s a masterpiece – unusual pace, amazing dance beat and a hook that gets us from the very start. We have been waiting for a pop song like this for a long time and we want more.
The only problem I have is that after the punch of ‘Honey’, the last three tracks are nowhere as exciting; they blur together a bit. Nevertheless, ‘Between The Lines’ has some great writing and 90s style house beats. The next one, ‘Beach2k20’ is my least favorite. It would work as an interlude, but it’s the longest track on the album and it definitely shouldn’t be. However, ‘Ever Again’ is great, as the lyrics make it stand out from the rest. It makes the record a closed narrative, both lyrically and musically.
Honey overall has a very good flow to it. Most of the songs work on their own but sound even better together in the chosen order. Robyn gave us a version of herself that is softer, more sensual and addictive, just like honey. But fear not, you’re still going to dance. A lot actually.