Premature Evaluation

Robyn – Body Talk PT. 2 Premature Evaluation

By / August 12, 2010

We’re familiar with Robyn’s plan for 2010-11 now: Release three EPs, tour as many cities and festivals as you can for them, and come out of 2011 with a stack of amazing singles and more than enough material to make up for the last few album-less years. And there’s a pattern you notice after hearing Body Talk PT. 2: One big-hearted dance track, one hook-free minimalist track, and one acoustic version to hint at the next EP’s single. But Body Talk PT.s 1 & 2 are very different in other ways, and one very important way: While Body Talk PT. 2 is the more consistent album, expect more tracks from PT. 1 (and, probably, PT. 3) to end up on the singles compilation.

The first few tracks of Body Talk PT. 1 hinted at Robyn’s Robyn singles (there were parallels to “With Every Heartbeat,” “Konichiwa Bitches,” etc). PT. 2’s first two songs, “In My Eyes” and “Include Me Out” remind you of even earlier Robyn. Both are breezy, carefree pop songs, with softer edges than the streetsmart and jaded voice on PT. 1. “Include Me Out” is the better track — “In My Eyes” sounds tinny and inconsequential next to “Include Me Out”’s rap-sung verses and stronger bassline. “Hang With Me,” doesn’t quite reach the levels of rapturous heartache of “Dancing On My Own,” but it’s close. And, as predicted, the quick arpeggio of the acoustic version turns into fizzing keyboard here.

The next three tracks work well together, and fit well with the material on Body Talk PT. 1. “Love Kills” has a deceptively great hook that’s all in the vocals, since the drum beat, and synths are a little empty. As mentioned “We Dance To The Beat”’s biggest parallel is “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do.” But this one’s full of starry, vague statements (“Of the continents shifting under our feet….of unrecognized genius…of distorted knowledge passed on”). “Your stupidity’s killin’ me,” would be more direct, and catchier. “Criminal Intent” is Robyn pleading her case with a judge for her “…conspiracy to engage in lewd activities” (play it after “Pull Over” and “99 Problems” at your bail party). Her blase delivery, over the song’s simple, five-note bassline add up to something more sleepy than it should have been.

Things pick up again with the “Cobrastyle”-esquee Snoop Dogg duet “U Should Know Better.” It’s more of a duet than a guest spot, with Snoop Dogg’s breathy, relaxed verses working surprisingly well over the tense, grinding synth. They one-up each other, letting things get more and more ridiculous (Robyn says she’s got influence over the Vatican, that she was present at Watergate, while Snoop is happy sitting at a cafe in Amsterdam). They’ve done one other track together, and they should probably do these all the time. But “U Should Know Better” makes for an abrupt transition to “Indestructible” (acoustic version), which will likely be a single on Body Talk PT. 3. After her processed vocals on the last few tracks, it’s refreshing to hear her voice unfiltered and wavering, singing about love without fewer of the defenses she’s built up over the this album, and Body Talk PT 1. Maybe she’ll carry that optimism over to Body Talk PT. 3. This track should make you very optimistic too.

Body Talk PT 2 is out 9/6 in the UK on Island/Konichiwa. The tracklist:

01 “In My Eyes”
02 “Include Me Out”
03 “Hang With Me”
04 “Love Kills”
05 “We Dance to the Beat”
06 “Criminal Intent”
07 “U Should Know Better (ft. Snoop Dogg)”
08 “Indestructible” (acoustic)