It’s either ambitious or foolish for Robyn to release a trilogy of albums this year, despite the success of June’s “Body Talk Pt. 1.” Still, her newest installment, “Body Talk Pt. 2,” (Cherrytree/Interscope) shows no wavering in quality or consistency. “Pt. 2” offers more of the same from “Pt. 1” — killer, catchy dance tracks with the same mini-album feel.
The obvious link between “Pt. 1” and “Pt. 2” is the song “Hang With Me,” which appeared on “Pt. 1” as a tender acoustic ballad but is re-imagined here as a dance number. The lyrics stay the same: She offers promises both sweet (“and if you do me right, I’m gonna do right by you”) and cautious (“just don’t fall recklessly, headlessly in love with me, ‘cuz it’s gonna be all heartbreak”). But the emotion behind them is completely different. The acoustic version is wrapped in a caring gentleness; the electro dance version is much more carefree. She’s dancing on her own again here, too, but this time it’s by choice. Freedom is an alluring lover, indeed.
“Hang” isn’t the only time on “Pt. 2” Robyn warns against love or shows a fiercely independent streak. “U Should Know Better” is an infectious track that features some of her most entertaining lyrics to date: “It’s all ooh la la and ahh oui oui/Sippin’ vin blanc in our lingerie/Choppin’ heads off with Madame guillotine/even the French know better than to fuck with me.” It’s also, not coincidentally, one of Snoop Dogg’s greatest guest spots in recent history, as the two hover and flirt from line to line, sounding more like a duet than his usual phoned-in-and-pasted verse. (We’re looking at you, Katy Perry.) The song is hilarious, fast-paced and rambunctious, as Robyn lists all those who know not to mess with her: the French, the Vatican, the CIA, the entire music industry.
Despite such an unfuckwithable status, Robyn is not without flaw here. She drops a few awkward words in a rap segment at the end of “Include Me Out” (if even the Pussycat Dolls couldn’t make the word “whatchamacallit” sound sexy, it probably can’t be done), and the sterility of the robotic “We Dance to the Beat” saps out much of her charm and allure.
But she knows how to end things right: The most captivating moment on “Pt. 2” is the closer, which isn’t a dance track at all. With the simple piano/string ballad “Indestructible,” Robyn shows that she doesn’t need electro beats and bleeps to command attention. Sure, she doesn’t have the vocal husk of, say, Christina Aguilera, but this track doesn’t require it: Despite the strength its title implies, it isn’t exactly a girl-power anthem. Instead, the love song mirrors the fragility in her voice as she embraces her vulnerability with a bell-like clarity: “I’m gonna love you like I’ve never been hurt before,” she coos. “I’m gonna love you like I’m indestructible.” It’s almost impossible to see how she could flip this song onto the dance floor, but if she pulls the same trick she did with “Hang With Me,” Robyn will be truly indestructible indeed.
Written by Express contributor Catherine Lewis
Photo courtesy Rankin Photography