Dear Kylie, all is forgiven. I thought "Aphrodite" was the worst cover of 2010 but "Body Talk Pt 1" raises ugliness to an artform. They say you shouldn't judge a book (or a CD) by its cover but this is one example where the exterior is unusually reflective of the content. It's cold, clinical, derivative (Sorry Robyn - Debbie Harry did it first way back in 1981) and absolutely desperate to be edgy. Unfortunately, the same goes for the music. Sweden's greatest export since ABBA has well and truly fucked up. "Body Talk Pt 1" isn't terrible but I expect so much more from Robyn and she only delivers the goods on a couple of songs. Not good enough. The very thing that made her different from all the nobodies to emerge from Scandinavia's conveyor belt of bland pop is noticeably absent from this not so hot mess - her heart. Robyn's gift is her ability to deliver an emotional sucker punch, usually camouflaged by killer beats and a catchy chorus. I can't believe the same woman who sang "Be Mine", "O Baby", "Giving You Back", "Blow My Mind" and "With Every Heartbeat" is content recording boring songs about robots and nightclubs. Fingers crossed she delivers the goods on Part 2 because I'd hate to see Robyn end up as washed up and creatively barren as Annie. Here is my review:
Don't Fucking Tell Me What To Do - 1/10
Great title, shame about the song. Robyn basically lists all the things that are pissing her off to some generic beats courtesy of Klas Åhlund (from Teddybears). Robyn loves to mix it up by throwing in the occasional oddity ("Konichiwa Bitches" springs to mind) but they are usually done with a sense of humour that is sadly missing from this deathly boring piece of shit.
Fembot - 4/10
Another song about a fucking robot. How cutting edge! Not only has this theme been done to death recently (by Kostas Kountas, Parralox, Gabriella Cilmi and Robyn herself among many others) - it's also been done infinitely better (see Margaret Berger and Marina & The Diamonds). "Fembot" is a just smug exercise in bad metaphors and irritatingly "hip" production. It's not clever or catchy. Just tired and pointless.
Dancing On My Own - 11/10
Just when I was ready to sell my Robyn collection on Ebay and wash my hands of the stupid Swedish troll for good, she comes up with this. "Dancing On My Own" is easily her best single since "Be Mine" and an early frontrunner for the year's best single. Everything about the Patrick Berger ("Jack U Off" and "Anytime U Like") produced gem is utter perfection. The lyrics are gut wrenching, Robyn actually sings for a change and the gloomy beats rain down with laser-like precision. It's dark and depressing yet simultaneously beautiful and uplifting. I feel every second of this anthem and fully expect it to be massive. "Dancing On My Own" is a very welcome reminder of just how good Robyn can be when she doesn't try to be something she's not. It's just a shame that such a spectacular song is housed on such a lousy album.
Cry When You Get Older - 7/10
Robyn re-visits the 80s on this cute little pop tune. I love the bouncy synths and unusually sweet lyrics ("love hurts when you do it right, you can cry when you get older"). This is the album's most straightforward pop song and should appeal to those of us who have been hanging around since the 90s. I feel that I've been a bit stingy with my 7/10 rating but this song reminds me of the mid-tempo synth pop on Gabriella Cilmi's "Ten" and I'm genuinely shocked to admit that Gabi did it better. Which makes me want to grab the nearest razor. Anyway, this is a smart choice for a future single.
Dancehall Queen - 8/10
When this leaked a couple of weeks ago along with "Fembot" and "None Of Dem", many fans dismissed it as the worst of the bunch. I totally disagree. "Dancehall Queen" is a bit of a grower but it's genuinely creative and innovative. I love how Diplo has re-created the raw and organic sound of reggae/dancehall music using synths and electronic beats. The song shouldn't work at all but it's strangely hypnotic and ultimately very catchy. It also the perfect vehicle for Robyn's fuck you attitude. I love her swagger on this. With any luck by the time Part 3 drops, there will be enough good material for one decent album.
None Of Dem - 6/10
This is probably the biggest disappointment on "Body Talk Pt 1". I love Röyksopp but they clearly don't know how to bring the best out of Robyn - as they previously proved on "The Girl & The Robot". "None Of Dem" isn't bad. It's just adequate filler. The production is epic but the song doesn't cover any new ground. Robyn just sings/talks about how hot she is (stop laughing!), while someone forgot to write a chorus. I'm sure the cool crowd will be uploading this as their new ring tone as I type. The rest of us will be too busy pressing 'skip'.
Hang With Me - 6/10
One of the most disturbing things about "Body Talk Pt 1" is just how little Robyn has evolved as an artist since 2005. This admittedly cute acoustic number is virtually interchangeable with "Eclipse" or "Robotboy". It's nice to actually hear some instruments and the lyrics are suitably pretty but it's all been done before and done considerably better.
Jag Vet en Dejlig Rosa - 1/10
Sanna Nielsen called and wants her act back.
"Body Talk Pt 1" is released in the UK on the 14th of June. As yet there is no Australian release date but Modular already have it on their release schedule, so it will be hitting local stores around the same time. I'm off to listen to "My Truth" on repeat to wash away the taste of this aural turd.