Album review: Robyn, "Body Talk Pt. 2"

September 28, 2010

 

The "popist" fondness for Lady Gaga aside, there are reasons why the Swedish dance-pop diva Robyn is a favorite in the hipster indie underground (and why she was one of the headliners at last summer's Pitchfork Music Festival, and a highlight of that shindig at that).

As Rolling Stone put it in an unusually insightful review of her new eight-song EP/mini-album, "She's as feisty as Pink, as beat-savvy as M.I.A., [and] does Eurodisco better than Gaga." Plus, she more seamlessly and artfully incorporates elements of underground electronic experimentation and pure mainstream sugar-rush pop appeal better that anyone else on the current scene, hooking in everyone from giggly grade-schoolers to unself-conscious beard-rockers to aerobicizing soccer moms without even breaking a sweat.

How good is Stockholm-born Robyn Carlsson? So good that even the obligatory Snoop Dogg cameo (in the simultaneously angry and exuberant, buoyant and bitchy "U Should Know Better") can't derail things on the second installment of her "Body Talk" trilogy. In fact, it's as fine as every other track here, with the exception of the one misstep, the soggy strings-laden ditty "Indestructible."

Of course, as with most dance-pop divas, you need to not be bothered by the fact that, you know, Robyn can't really sing. But there's an underlying power beneath her particular chirpy warble, due partly to her age and experience (at age 31, she's been groomed for pop stardom since 13, and she's learned how to make the machine work for her instead of the other way around) and partly to a personality that is plenty sexy and seductive without taking so much as the hint of crap from anyone, thank you very much.

And I just dare you to give this disc one listen and then try to shake the earworm hooks of "Criminal Intent," "U Should Know Better," "Hang with Me," or "In My Eyes out of your head.

(Robyn performs a sold-out show at Metro on Nov. 13.)

Robyn, "Body Talk Pt. 2" (Cherrytree/Interscope)  Rating: 3.5/4