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Audio CD, 13 Aug 2007
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`Robyn' is a collection of ultra-concise pop moments - that
rarest of things, a classic pop album. It's a sad-eyed, super-strong
battery of nuclear-powered pop. It's the best weapon she's got.
To internet music geeks everywhere Robyn needs absolutely no introduction. Queen of the blogosphere in 2006, the self-titled Robyn has been imported from Sweden and analysed time and time again. But then again even the casual music fan probably knows who she is - after all her big 1998 hit "Show Me Love" is a stalwart of every 1990s compilation, and little did we know Beverley Knight's "Keep The Fire Burning" is a Robyn classic.
Now almost 10 years after her original success, Robyn finally returns to the UK celebrating her new found independence as CEO of Konichiwa Records with the fierce "Konichiwa Bitches". Like Peaches, but more goofy, it's the first of two rap-laden tracks on the album, the second being a sweet cover of fellow Swedes Teddybears STHLM track "Cobrastyle".
Where Robyn's skills really lie is in creating the perfect bittersweet love song. "Be Mine!" (complete with exclamation mark to warm a pop fan's heart) is emotionally choking. An agitated cello and an urgent drumbeat accompany the description of a feeling we can all relate to - loving someone who doesn't love you back. Building until a devasting spoken-word breakdown, 'I just miss you... that's all.' - breaks your heart.
There's no time to wipe the tears away with the sublime "With Every Heartbeat" following. Produced by Kleerup (former member of Teddybears and the drummer in Robyn's live band), if we could hear no other song but this for the rest of our life, we would be content. Our fingers reach to touch the lasers as euphoric yet melancholy strings swell and Robyn defiantly promises to 'never look back'.
The fact that we've not even left room to comment on how the mighty Knife produced the glistening steel-drum ridden "Who's That Girl", the perkiness of the cute "Bum Like Me" or how Jamelia would kill for a ballad as elegant as "Handle Me" shows quite how magnificent Robyn is. Whether the British public end up welcoming her back is quite a different matter, but if you're after pop with feeling - you won't want to miss this. --Talia Kraines
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Top customer reviews
I hold up my hand, as an alleged "grown up" and lover of music with proper guitars, etc - I like this record. Quite a lot. I don't like *every* track without exception, but a number of songs, especially the tearstained angst of "Be Mine" and the frenetic "With Every Heartbeat", are nothing short of fantastic. "Bum Like You" is the best song (or perhaps the *only* song) I've ever heard about falling for a tramp (unless I'm taking her too literally) and "Robot Boy" falls just the right side of cutesy - which is a lot more than can be said of Gwen Stefani's "Sweet Escape" single.
Refreshing to hear a female singer warbling about something other than "I love him/he's a pig/I can't get over him" etc (although she seems to do these equally well, to be fair - see "Eclipse").
It would seem Radio 1 are now playing "Heartbeat", so I'm expecting to hear a lot more people wondering aloud, as I did; "haven't I seen that girl before somewhere? She looks awfully familiar..."
And, for the record, am I the only one who thinks she occasionally sounds a little like Kate Bush on helium? Which isn't a bad thing in any way... Listen to the beginning of "Heartbeat" and you'll hear it.
Buy it - you maybe won't like every song. I'm finding "Who's That Girl" a little too reminiscent of the Madonna track of the same name (and that wasn't exactly Madge's pinacle of excellence - although I probably shouldn't admit to being old enough to remember it!) and I'm not particular taken with the down-wit-the-ho's rapping on "Bitches", but hey, if Ms Furtado can get away with it then it's worth a go... My feeling is that she's maybe trying a number of different styles to find out what works best and much respect to her for that.
My only critisim is the exclusion of the ballad version of Be Mine which was the EP record - its absolutley heart breaking (especially live), and could make someone fall in love with Robyn as an artist.
I hope Robyn gets the respect she deserves for this album, as she's doing this kind of progressive pop alot better than someone like Gwen, Fergie et al. Or maybe we want to keep her all to ourselves? If she could get listed on Radio 1, I'm sure something like Be Mine could be a huge hit.
Still despite the proclamations, upon hearing the Konichiwa Bitches single I remained a little nonplussed. It was alright, but not exactly my favourite song ever. In fact it was almost an attempt to be too left-field; as if making pop music didn't mean having to have such a thing as a catchy chorus. Still, lyrically it was one of the sharpest pop songs of the year so in it's own way it did mean that there was bound to be a lot to look forward to as the album finally got it's official UK release.
And thankfully not everything is as wilfully difficult as that song was. Who's That Girl is the best song the Sugababes have never done, Jamelia wouldn't be whoring herself out with sample-heavy singles if someone could write something as good as Handle Me for her and, quite frankly, Pink would deserve the mass acclaim she recieves if she did something as fresh and as funky as Cobrastyle.
These are far from the only highlights, with another great track being the ever so slightly lyrically x-rated Should Have Known.
It doesn't always work, Crash And Burn Girl for instance sounds like the kind of insipid "floor-filler" Liberty X might try to pass off as sublime pop, and album closer Anytime You Like is just too dull for my palate, but these are just mere trifles. For the most part the album certainly does work.
Robyn has spent years in the wilderness in the UK. If there's any justice, this album should see all of that change.
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