By manipulating the modern pop palette to craft a complex heartbreak album, Robyn shows her imitators how it’s done
It is eight years since Robyn last released an album. This, it scarcely needs pointing out, is not considered best practice in pop music, a world where attention spans are short and memories shorter still: stay away too long, and on your eventual return you’ll find some young pretender parked in the space you thought was reserved for you.
But Robyn established some time ago that the normal rules do not apply to her. Her last album opened with a track called Don’t Fucking Tell Me What to Do. And besides, she’s pulled off the curious trick of seeming present in pop even while absent. A recent Guardian profile listed a range of hits that bore her influence from recent years: songs by Ariana Grande, Lorde, Taylor Swift and Rihanna. In 2016, Body Talk’s biggest single, Dancing On My Own, returned to the charts, albeit in a version that unwittingly demonstrated the gulf between what its author does and pop’s more basic practitioners. Calum Scott’s cover gormlessly sandblasted away the original’s emotional complexity – a very realistic mix of despair, steely determination and euphoria – in favour of mournful bloke-at-a-piano emoting.Continue reading...
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