Robyn: Our New VBF
It’s been eight years since Robyn’s last album, and Honey arrives like a big sigh of relief
Robyn is unpredictable in her musical movements
The return of Robyn is a pretty big deal. It’s not because her fans love her so much – like, really love her – or because her songs are a direct line to our heartstrings but it’s because she’s ready to be back. In the recent promotional trail for her eighth album, Honey, she’s been quite vocal about the lows that filled the eight years since 2010’s three-part series of mini-albums, Body Talk. These lows, like breaking up (but later to be reconciled with) her partner Max Vitali and the death of her longtime friend and collaborator Christian Falk, occasionally made her feel like she could never make music again. Honey arrives like a big sigh of relief.
On the album’s closing track, Ever Again, the Swedish singer sings that she’s “never gonna be broken-hearted again”. Those well-acquainted with Robyn’s music know that this line is delivered with a wink and a nod because her main currency for the best part of her career has been empowering sad songs. On 2007’s With Every Heartbeat, she captures the ever-present thud of a broken heart and on this year’s comeback single, Missing U, which also opens the album, she notes that the absence of a person in your life somehow increases their presence everywhere else; from the empty bed they once shared to every physical object in her home that comes with a memory. Robyn does sad well.
Whether on Call Your Girlfriend or Dancing On My Own, these stories fuel a violent rhythm that turns the club into a space for physical and deeply emotional therapy. “I’m right over here, why can’t you see me? Oh! I’m giving it my all but I’m not the girl you’re taking home,” we wail with pained perfection, punching the air and unashamedly relating to these depths of loneliness that Robyn celebrates. But it’s not all tears and self-torture. Don’t F*cking Tell Me What To Do and Fembot show her dark humour while demonstrating how you take a musical genre and blow it to smithereens. Robyn spits rhymes, busts balls and gives Daft Punk a run for their money with her very own version of robot pop.
In a very thorough profile in the Guardian by Laura Snapes, we learn of Robyn’s impact on modern pop music. Snapes cites Rihanna’s We Found Love, Ariana Grande’s Love Me Harder and Taylor Swift’s Welcome to New York as songs that were cut from the same sad cloth as Robyn’s, and the story goes that mega pop song creator Max Martin claims that whenever a female artist comes into his studio to make some magic, they place Robyn’s album on the table because that’s the album they want to replicate. But there’s no mimicking Robyn.
The now 39-year-old – a pop star since the age of 14 – is unpredictable in her musical movements. Honey dives deep into the despair of mending a broken heart, but where she once used her sadness as an armour, Honey ends on an optimistic note. Learning from her past heartaches, she appears to shelve her trademark sadness on the last track, acknowledging the chapter that she’s finally ready to begin.