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Robyn is here to save pop music with new album “Honey”

Robyn is performed at the main stage at the O2 Wireless Festival in Hyde Park, London. When it comes to…

Robyn is performed at the main stage at the O2 Wireless Festival in Hyde Park, London. When it comes to pop music stories we will remember in 2018, the most durable will probably be a fictional: “A Star is Born”, the Weepy Oscar’s leading runner as for all his many charms has a pretty dim view of pop. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, the movie seems to say with its adopted familiar story about Lady Gaga Ally, a young artist who leaves the authentic songwriting and hearty work of her early days behind costumes, dance routines and rare hits. It’s supposed to be the story we all know to be true about pop music, how it’s the genre that makes you famous, but maybe not the same kind of fulfilled.

And then there’s Robyn’s “Honey” the best pop album from 2018, which shows that there are so many wonders of the genre that the movie does not care about telling. Pop is supposed to be a genre belonging to the brightest young things; Robyn is 39 years old and has been in the game for decades – first known in her native country in Sweden, then crosses the pond to become a loved critical favorite in the states. And she now makes the best music in her career.

Popstars are expected to work in a churn machine to release new hits; Robyn took eight years to make “honey” and followed up her beloved 2010 album “Body Talk” by departing from music for almost a decade. Many of the rare popbangers, some of the singer’s most striking hits – especially her breakthrough “Dancing On My Own” – are queer dancefloor anthems. Her crumpled widow’s dance sequence in her “Call Your Girlfriend” music video is the perfect antidote for the kind of style, over-repetitive Lady Gaga characteristic attempts in the film.

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And beyond that, “Honey” does not sound like the album of a pop star interested in stopping its release with the maximum number of hits. “Honey” is the slowest album of Robyn’s career, its nine laser-focused songs take their clues from club music instead of radio pops, characterized by slowed tracks that reflect smoothly during the course of the song – sometimes build on a stimulating climax, sometimes leaving the listener waiting at a great moment Robyn chooses never to materialize.

“Honey” can be a danceable album, but its overwhelming feeling is anxiety, from the sparkling sadness of its leading single “Missing U” to the chorus of “Because It’s In The Music” that summarizes the album’s mission statement, “Because it’s in the music / Yes, we danced to it / I’m right back at that moment / And it makes me cry.” And considering how lean “Älskling” is, with not a single production flourishing its place , its untouched moments are so much more effective, as when its brilliant closing track “Ever Again” explodes into an euphoria of synths in the last moments of the album.

That’s why some listeners, who can expect the “Honey” tracklist to be as ear-shaped as some of her previous albums, may be disappointed by the more relaxed pace and the less crowded hooks. But when you remember that Robyn – like our star starred starring Ally – started like a heavy-handed young pop star, it’s clear that “Honey” is the kind of album she aspired for her whole life to be able to release, an honest manifestation of her artistry that is unique and pure hers.

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