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Body Talk Pt. 2

[Konichiwa; 2010]

By ; September 9, 2010 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Body Talk Pt. 1 comes from the voice of a woman who is confident and unyielding; the album constructed a vivid world punctuated by flashing lights that were strung onto a permanent night sky, a dance floor, and blurs of people orbiting around a protagonist who has, needless to say, been through some shit. She stood battle tested, ready to extend her hand and share her wisdom of heartbreak with others not yet unfortunate enough to experience it. Yet one thing stuck in my mind by the time the cellos on “The Girl and the Robot” vanished – was she satisfied? Was this woman really content with dancing on her own in a room full of lovers? Body Talk Pt. 2 continues the narrative of Robyn, the dance hall queen without a king, and eventually quells my initial impression of this pop superstar with a very widely-experienced vice.

That aforementioned first impression was, simply put, that love was not welcome in Robyn’s world. Most of the tracks on Pt. 1 portray love as sharp, dangerous and unpredictable, and much of the same commentary can be found on Pt. 2. However, unlike its predecessor, this record begins to punch some gaping holes into the seemingly impenetrable wall that had surrounded Robyn; the barrier that separates her from that hostile emotion immediately starts to give way as the record begins. The level of tenderness found in “In My Eyes,” the disc’s boisterous, sparkling opener, isn’t necessarily uncharacteristic, but Robyn curbs the “don’t fucking tell me what to do” attitude that was essentially a motif of her records since 2007’s Robyn for a “don’t be afraid” one instead. Here, Robyn consoles and comforts, offering her go-to remedy, dancing, to perhaps a potential Romeo. She implores him to look into her eyes, to turn away from the rest of the crowd and enter into her own world where only she lives. The swelling synths climb with her voice during yet another infectious hook; “And though I bet you think it’s better on the inside, there with them/ We’re better off outside looking back in.” Still unwilling to join the blurs of people spinning around her on the dance floor, instead preferring to exist within herself, hoping to spot that perfect person, that shining “little star,” out of endless constellations. What struck me the most about the beginning of this record, though, was the second track, “Include Me Out.” Musically, it’s quite forgettable, and is accented by a distracting wavy groan that lives in the underbelly of the relatively empty beat for the duration of the song, but the message is something different from Robyn. Still offering her spacious heart for new occupants, she urges him not to strand her. “And if you were to fall to fall apart, there’s plenty room inside my heart/ Just don’t include me out” – words of worry from an otherwise intrepid individual.

“Hang With Me,” a personal favorite from Pt. 1, takes an upbeat turn on Pt. 2, and while the effectiveness of this gorgeous piece is not lost in translation, (thanks in great part to the fine touches of producer Klas Åhlund) the intimacy of the original is what truly made it something special. Its acoustic, string-laden counterpart, “Indestructible,” which very well may get the same club-treatment come Pt. 3, is an equally impressive, lush track that really emphasizes what makes Robyn’s voice so unique – it can fit anywhere. Here, it floats above a sea of violins and cellos perfectly but still remains humble enough for, say, a pounding Röyksopp fare. Alternatively, “Love Kills” is an electric, make-no-mistake offensive against the merciless power of the emotion-that-shall-not-be-named, wrapped around an excitable staccato rhythm that succeeds in inducing a rather uneasy vibe. To the tune of “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do,” “We Dance to the Beat’s” abstract repetition reflects against a metallic drum loop that collects together the company of warm synth pulses and processed robo-vocals – the flickering images of “bad kissers clicking teeth” to “the continents shifting under our feet” are both minimal and grand in scale, but they are, in the end, just beats to dance to.

The one-two punch of “Criminal Intent” and “U Should Know Better” is Robyn’s hardest-hitting pair on any of her records and tip the scale on Pt. 2 toward the independent woman who cares not for being tangled in love’s tentacles. Instead, “Criminal Intent” evokes the raucous atmosphere of a Sleigh Bells cut with the self-indulgence that hip-hop now thrives off of. Handcuffed, and scantily clad with ripped pantyhose, she tries to convince the judge of her innocence before being read her sentence – “a little dirty never hurt anyone,” she says, and I happen to agree. Perhaps this is thanks in part to the presence of Snoop on the globe-traversing banger, “U Should Know Better.” Robyn and The Boss Dogg trade verses and take no prisoners, calling out the Vatican, to the CIA, to the Devil, and not missing a single beat from the visceral, radio-ready track that backs it all.

This record hangs in between two Robyns – we see the woman who dares to give love a second, third, maybe tenth chance, as well as a woman who thinks nothing positive of the emotion that has clearly done its damage to her. Body Talk Pt. 2 continues to carry the malignant distaste for love that has permeated much of Robyn’s music since her self-titled reemergence, but this second part of what promises to be an impressive pop trilogy reveals a character, an artist, who is struggling not because what she wishes to avoid, but because of what she wishes to experience again.


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