Heartfelt dance-pop from the Swedish artist.
Honey is Robyn's clubbiest record yet. It came together in Stockholm, Paris, Ibiza and Los Angeles, where writing and recording sessions were interspersed with psychoanalysis and all-night-partying, something that's long been a source of catharsis and inspiration for Robyn. The album is her first in eight years, and speaks to both heartbreak—from the end of a relationship (now resurrected) and the loss of Falk—and rebirth. A glance at her Spotify playlist, "The Music That Inspired Honey," reveals just how wide Robyn cast her net: music by Mozart, Steely Dan and Idris Muhammad sits alongside Axel Boman, Bicep and Floorplan.
Hearing DJ Koze's "XTC" was a pivotal moment for Robyn, and helped her define the sort of music she wanted to make: tracks with a sensual groove rather than abrupt peaks and troughs, and rhythms that make more sense in the club than on the radio. The first single, "Missing U," is the outlier in that sense. It harks back to Body Talk-era Robyn and was the first track she wrote (the tracks are sequenced in the order they were written).
What follows is less immediate, but just as rewarding. "Human Being," featuring Zhala, uses negative space and frosty, clipped production to match the sobering, AI-controlled future suggested by the lyrics. Tracks four and five work in tandem. The former marries a steady pulse with Robyn's impassioned vocal and pitched-down male counterpart. On "Send To Robin Immediately," she continues to sing "Baby, forgive me" before a sample of Lil Louis's "French Kiss" surfaces. Even without the original's famous climax, the hypnotic house loop is powerfully seductive.
That same mood of expansive possibility pervades the title track, where Robyn's voice, light but resonant, spreads through the production like ink in water. Elsewhere she's more playful. "Because It's In The Music," shot with stardust synths, captures the bittersweet nostalgia of listening to a song once enjoyed with a special someone. Between The Lines" echoes Robin S. with Korg M1 keys. The Mr. Tophat-produced "Beach2k20" evokes a summer sea breeze with a beat Robyn has said might have been inspired by samba lessons.
"Ever Again" is a sublime finale. Where in the past Robyn was defiant in the face of heartbreak, here she's reached a sunny state of acceptance. "Never gonna be broken-hearted, ever again," she vows over a warm disco bass groove. Of course, she can't guarantee that, but the point she's making is that she won't let it destroy her next time. Throughout Honey, the pure, raw emotion that has always defined Robyn's music is still there. Now, she's just dancing to a different beat.