That five years passed between Robyn’s last album and 2010’s Body Talk trilogy shouldn’t surprise anyone: Robin Carlsson’s career has always been wayward. By 18 she'd scored a Max Martin-produced international smash hit (accidentally inventing Britney Spears as a by-product), before a period of artistic experimentation which alienated her major label bosses. She promptly dumped them, set up her own label and unleashed an extraordinary, eclectic eponymous LP on the world. As she sings on Body Talk, Part 2’s standout track: "the whole industry knows not to f*** with me".
But what makes this album so thrilling isn’t the unusual circumstances of its birth, but the brilliant songs it bears. Though less varied than its similarly excellent predecessor, it's actually more rewarding thanks to a higher quality threshold and a more consistent, beats-driven approach. It still showcases the gleeful ease with which Robyn flits between pop genres – she takes in 80s-tinged electro, soft house, playful hip hop, classic disco and orchestral, tear-teasing balladry. But the second installment of Body Talk is more coherent than the first.
The opening In Your Eyes is quite gorgeous, its tingling synths perfectly showcasing Robyn’s sweet, ringing melody. It would be the pinnacle of 95% of pop records, but is followed here by richer pickings. There's the shimmering, pleading Hang With Me, a heartfelt hug of a song, and the discofied, sharp-edged Love Kills, with its haunting Pet Shop Boys flourishes and fierce vocal.
On the more experimental tracks, Robyn still sounds utterly at ease. On Criminal Intent, she tries on Peaches’ languid rapping style and smirking innuendos and finds they fit perfectly, while the mesmeric We Dance to the Beat is apocalyptic, big-beat techno that genuinely unnerves. And then there's the aforementioned standout, the delirious Snoop Dogg collaboration U Should Know Better. Fourteen years ago it would have been impossible to imagine this – the teen-pop singer and hip hop outlaw swapping louche quips over a relentless, grimy electro stomp – but it works fabulously, the two MCs having such audible fun it would be plain rude not to join them.
A brief, brilliant record that leaves you panting, Body Talk, Part 2 is the latest evidence that Robyn is probably the best, most versatile pop star currently at work. If Part 3 is even half as good such an accolade will be proven beyond doubt.
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