FIrst Impressions: Royksopp & Robyn, “Do it Again”

doitagainI don’t know a great deal about the duo called Royksopp, but I do know a thing or two about Robyn—the world’s most badass pop star; she who is legally prohibited from wearing tight sweaters on international flights; she who doesn’t engage with her muse by way of piano balladry or finger-picked acoustic guitar playing but is a peerless songwriter nevertheless, offering bold witness to our collective need for vulnerability—for human engagement even when it comes at a cost, which it surely always does—and bidding us love without fear.

The three of them have collaborated—not for the first time—and the result is a new record called Do It Again. With five songs but over 35 minutes of music, it’s being billed as a “mini album.” It is more rewarding and fun than most hour-long musical programs, and strikes a nice balance between songs that are adventurous and experimental, and songs that sound more like Robyn doing what she does best—never repeating herself, just playing to her strengths.

Balance is a keyword here, actually, exemplified by the record’s structure: It is bookended with a couple of moody, experimental numbers, both of them hovering around the ten-minute marker. The opener, “Monuments,” is reflective, exhibiting quiet resolve: The singer pledges that the legacy she’ll leave behind will be one of having loved well, and bravely; saxophones carry the song out, and if the use of this instrument as a signifier of romantic melancholy has become quite familiar, the arrangement here is too evocative for anyone to quibble. The album ends with “Inside the Idle Hour Club,” a spare and leisurely instrumental.

Sandwiched between them are three songs that are vintage Robyn—which is to say, pure pop bliss. “Sayit” is was made with the dancefloor in mind; it’s a throbbing, robotic slow-build, descended from “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What to Do” or “We Dance to the Beat.” “Every Little Thing” is a love song with a hook that could’ve been on a prime Britney Spears song—and that’s not a bad thing. The title song is an irresistible blast of new wave synths, but it’s powered by the singer’s incomparable swagger as much as anything else.

It’s a bit of a gem, this album, and a smashing evolution of some of the lyrical and musical themes from Robyn’s unimpeachable Body Talk LP—not bad at all for something that’s not even billed as a proper LP.

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