Swedish GaGa Makes Pop Exciting

Robyn
Body Talk
Konichiwa

Robyn has been making strides on the other side of the Atlantic since the late ‘90s, crafting relentlessly sweet synth-pop that, for whatever reason, has yet to break the surface of the U.S. mainstream. But on Body Talk Pt. 3 — the conclusion of a three-part series that includes five new songs and five tracks each from this year’s Body Talk Pt.1 and Body Talk Pt. 2 — the Swedish artist showcases the explosive confidence of a full-fledged pop star.

Singles “Indestructible” and “Dancing On My Own” glimmer with ‘80s synthesizers, fronted by Robyn’s powerful-but-lovelorn lyrics, delivered with searing bravado. The former track’s “screw you” vibe is reminiscent of last year’s “Bulletproof” by fellow European electropoppers La Roux. “I let the bad ones in and the good ones go/But I’m gonna love you like I’ve never been hurt before,” she croons.

Despite the occasional overdone lyrical content, Body Talk is never stale. In “Fem Bot,” a delightfully spastic, half-rapped verse slides into a sexy, ethereal chorus, while the campy dub of Diplo-produced “Dancehall Queen” manages to weave in an electro-ska breakdown. Snoop Dogg even stops by on “U Should Know Better” — a globetrotting, fast-paced hit list of people who “know better than to fuck with me” (the Russians, the Vatican, the CIA and the Prince of Darkness, to name a few). It’s an entertaining and surprisingly funny detour from the standard dance-pop, not to mention the most interesting thing Snoop has done in the last few years (no, “California Gurls” doesn’t count).

But it’s moments like on the soaring “Call Your Girlfriend” and flashback love song “Hang With Me” that hit our sappy, vulnerable cores, revealing the naive teenage girl inside. Sometimes — Robyn assures us — you need to put that rugged machismo aside and just dance the pain away.

Those who pray that Lady GaGa will someday find the sleek, inventive sound to match her futuristic-Christmas-tree persona, look no further. We have Robyn to cure our pop depression — and the exciting and outrageously infectious (though imperfect) Body Talk is a clear reminder that we should be damn thankful we do. (8/10)

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