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On the latest album from venerable Swedish pop queen, Robyn, you witness a relationship unfold. But Honey follows an unusual chronology, starting in the wreckage of a breakup that eventually resolves itself through plenty of yearning and flirting. The album, Robyn’s first solo work since Body Talk (2010), is an exuberant homage to ‘90s house music, another example of her masterful blending of dance trends with sincere lyricism.
In the years since 2010’s Body Talk, Robyn fans have sustained their devotion through remixes and collaborations, like the 2014 EP Do It Again with Röyksopp. Her disjointed release schedule has led to a smattering of material, singles and releases, without much of a narrative thread. Previously thriving despite this lack of structure, Honey feels extra special, indulging in a concept album format, a space for Robyn’s songwriting to shine.
“Missing U,” the shimmering first single, delivers in a profound way. It has all the Robyn hallmarks—passionate vocals, standout kicks, spacey sythns—but still feels brand new. It’s a cathartic, post-break up anthem, exactly the jam to shout along to on a packed dance floor, when you need to use music and a few drinks as therapy. The strength of her singles, like “Missing U,” has been the key to Robyn’s decades of success. But with Honey, the single experience is only one part of the equation.
The title track “Honey” is a lusty, classic house track, reminiscent of past hits like “Dancing On My Own.” The stripped down beat paired with her demand of “come get your honey” is a new kind of sexy confidence for Robyn. She’s done bossy (“Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do”) and even a little desperate (“Hang With Me”), but this Robyn is already pretty sure she’s going to get what she wants.
With each song, a new style comes into play, like an Easter egg hunt for dance music nerds. “Between the Lines” is the most obvious throwback, with slick Chicago synths. “Beach2k20” has a laid-back Balearic style (perhaps no coincidence, as part of Honey was recorded in Ibiza). It works well, Robyn posturing as aloof and cool, working to impress someone while cooing, “let’s go party.” “Baby Forgive Me” and “Send To Robin Immediately” feel fresh, with screwed-up, slowed down vocals and a measured, DJ Koze-esque backbeat.
Overall, Honey is a fantastic album. Each track is thoughtful, produced to perfection. It’s simple to listen to, as either danceable background music, or turned up to an appropriately reverent decible. Robyn proves that even after taking a few years off, she is a true standout in a crowded dance pop scene, still setting the tone after all these years.
Notable Tracks: “Between the Lines” | “Honey” | “Missing U”