Review Summary: Robyn has managed to create the most satisfying pop album of the year; I'd say that half-year of waiting was definitely worth it.
Well, how do you like that? The whole time, Robyn was toying with me. While I did like the three “mini-albums”, they didn’t seem as great as most were making them out to be. A lot of the songs were very good, and some even felt like song-of-the-year material, but the albums all had more filler than a half-hour album should bear. If an artist releases a twenty-track album, he can lag a bit here and there, but if your album only has eight songs on it you have to use those eight spots. So, I completely under-anticipated how powerful the albums would be when put together as one. How powerful? Not only is this the best album I’ve heard all year; it is quite possibly the best dance-pop album of all time.
The album opens with “Dancing on My Own”, undoubtfully the most popular song from the album. This song is lyrical genius, as far as I‘m concerned. I can’t relate to most pop music lately, because I’m not a pop star. Half of the songs on the radio are about the same thing: “Isn’t it great to be rich and famous?” Yes, I’m sure it is, but I don’t want to listen to a song about it. Robyn’s music is much more in depth, and “Dancing on My Own” is a prime example of that. It’s not a song about being a celebrity, or drunk sex, or nightclubbing (a topic I liked a lot more when Iggy Pop sang about it). It’s a song about watching the person you love dance with somebody else, and feeling hopeless. That’s very relatable, because every person in the world has experienced heartbreak. Heartbreak is as much a part of life as love or friendship and, whether you’re rich or poor, a celebrity or a nobody, you know what it feels like to want somebody you can’t have. That’s what makes that song so great: it’s real.
The next track is, in my opinion, the song that defines the Body Talk trilogy: “Fembot”. It opens with “I’ve got some news for you/Fembots have feelings too/You split my heart in two/Now what you gonna do?” That is a great hook, but the song really takes off during the second verse: “My system’s in mint condition/The power’s up on my transistors/Working fine, no glitches/Plug me in and flip some switches/Pull up in docking position/Pop the hatch and hit ignition/Burn out, baby/Ready for demolition.” That has to be the catchiest moment in any song I’ve heard in a long time and, the more I listen to it, the more I love it. That’s why it surprises me that so many critics ignored the song.
“Hang with Me” is my favorite ballad on the album. From what I can tell, “Dancing on My Own” is the popular vote but, since “Hang with Me” was released, I‘ve loved it with a passion. Like “Dancing on My Own”, it has great lyrics, but I think “Hang with Me”’s are actually better than “Dancing”’s. Strangely enough, while the two songs both masterfully handle their topics, their lyrics are almost opposite. While “Dancing on My Own” features Robyn in love with a man who doesn’t even notice her, “Hang with Me” has Robyn telling a man “I know what‘s on your mind/There will be time for that, too“, while warning: “Don’t fall recklessly/Headlessly in love with me.” It’s a very sad song about not wanting to be hurt, and yet still wanting somebody in any way that won‘t hurt you. If it weren’t for the irresistible catchiness of “Fembot”, “Hang with Me” would be my favorite song on the album.
The songs from Body Talk Pt. 3 are great. Containing only five songs, that album is definitely the best of the three (probably because she doesn’t stick too much filler in there). “Indestructible”, the single from Pt. 3, isn’t as good as the previous two albums’ singles. It is a good song, but I think a better choice would be either “Time Machine” (not exactly a sister-song to “Fembot”, but it sounds like one) or “Call Your Girlfriend” (another great song, lyrically).
Looking at the track-listing, I saw that the album contained a few songs, like “Dancehall Queen” and “Love Kills”, that I hadn’t liked on Pt. 1 and Pt. 2. Listening to the album, though, I realized that the songs actually sounded better than they had, previously. That’s mostly because of the order. Whether they chose the track-listing at random or had somebody choose it, they managed to create an album that flows incredibly well. Reversing the order of “Fembot” and “Don’t ***ing Tell Me What to Do” improves it more than you’d think a small change would, and “Love Kills” sounds a lot better following “Time Machine”, as opposed to “In My Eyes”. Although I never had much of a problem with “Dancehall Queen”, it was never a favorite. It’s still not, but I do like it slightly better here than on Pt. 1, where it preceded “Cry When You Get Older” (to which it failed in comparison). And, speaking of which, where is “Cry When You Get Older”? That’s the only real flaw I could find on the album, but I really did love that song.
Well, that doesn’t really matter. Who cares what’s not there when what’s there is this good? Overall, I’d say Robyn has accomplished something incredible, this year: she featured Snoop Dogg in his best cameo of the year (which, when you think about how many cameos Snoop does in a year, should actually be its own Grammy Award). And, along with that, she has managed to put out three good albums that, when combined, form a triangle of perfect.