Shortcuts: Robyn—Robyn

By Emale Gray

If you’ve been reading over the past month, you may have noticed the appearance of a pale white girl with bangs that swoop across her face like a bird’s wing. Remember the ’97 hit “Show Me Love”? Over a decade later, singer Robyn has revamped not only her hair but also her musical tastes, dropping the bubblegum pop she was known for and maturing into a sound that blends electronica and hip-hop into what can only be described as new wave pop—or Robyn.

A grand reopening more than ten years late, this self-titled American re-debut begins with a dramatic, cinematic-trailer voice heaping well deserved praise on the songbird’s accomplishments, advising listeners to turn up the volume. The bragging continues as a sweet voice raps, “You wanna rumble in my jungle, I’ll take you on,” in the international hit “Konichiwa Bitches.” This animated fusion of hip-hop and electronica is sustained into the dance/reggae “Cobrastyle,” a track that samples the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” and lyrics from Kid Rock’s “Bawitdaba.”

“Handle Me” musically and lyrically describes the systematic process by which Robyn goes through men like chocolates in a chocolate factory. Bass pounds and violins elegantly play through club hits “Be Mine” and “Crash and Burn Girl”—the former is almost completely guided by the sophistication of the violin orchestration, and the latter is wound up with synthesizer.

An older version of “Robotboy” remained at a standstill, largely because the song’s repetition of the word “home” makes it sound like a broken machine. On this fresh U.S. edition, the bass kicks in about 40 seconds into the song, repairing this once-broken machine and giving it wings like a can of Red Bull. The once-mellow “Bum Like You” receives similar treatment, replacing the dying generic AA batteries with two new Energizers.

Even with her soft vocal delivery, Robyn soars, packing each lyric with emotion and intent. This is especially true of “Eclipse,” a track that strips Robyn down to her bare vocals, and “Anything You Like,” which lulls listeners to a deep trance, envied by Buddhists.The electro-pop masterpiece “With Every Heartbeat” evokes beautiful imagery, coupling Robyn’s yielding vocals with striking violin orchestration to illustrate the pain of heartbreak in an almost glorious light.

It seems that Robyn’s awful haircut speaks to more than her poor fashion decisions. It alludes to the musical progression she has created, which soars above any in the current mainstream. Hopefully, it will define the new wave of pop for future generations.