Album Review: Robyn – Honey (Track by Track)

robyn honey

Robyn returns with new album after eight years
If you had told me in 2010 that I would have to wait eight years for a new Robyn album after Body Talk, I probably would have been devastated. ‘Taking her sweet time’ does not even begin to cover the long wait, but it is finally over! Robyn returned over the summer with the track ‘Missing U’ and dropped title track ‘Honey’ soon after. Now the full record is out and I provide you with a track by track analysis of Honey.

01. Missing U
Lyrically ‘Missing U’ is very much appropriate as a comeback single, talking about an ’empty space you left behind now you’re not here with me’. That is exactly how we felt Robyn! Sonically ‘Missing U’, out of all the tracks on Honey, comes closest to her style on Body Talk. The stomping beats, the shimmering synths and that bright shining chorus take us back to 2010, but there are touches in the production and the way Robyn uses her voice that show her development as an artist. ‘Missing U’ is the perfect first single and opening track to ease us into her new sound!

02. Human Being
On Honey Robyn worked with Joseph Mount of Metronomy (with whom she collaborated on the track ‘Hang Me Out To Dry’) and ‘Human Being’ (featuring Zhala who is signed to Robyn’s own label) is one of the tracks he produced. He did a terrific job! ‘Human Being’ sounds so rich and layered, while still being a laidback listening experience. The beat loop is addictive and extremely catchy. The lyrics explore what it means to be a human being in a world no longer dominated by humans and how our contact with other humans defines us. It is interesting to hear how a track that stays true to the classic pop tune structure (verse-chorus etc) does not sound anything like a straightforward pop song, but is still so damn catchy!

03. Because It’s In The Music
I am convinced Robyn is the only one who can make a disco throwback sound so futuristic at the same time. With Mount and Klas Åhlund she wrote a tune about a song that strongly reminds you of a person you had a connection with. The sad undertones in the lyrics over the sweet, high pitched production and vocals, make this track into a bittersweet affair. The middle-eight takes us straight back to the 70s with its disco inspired vocal climax, only to drop back into futuristic synths and beats. The best of two worlds!

04. Baby Forgive Me
‘Baby Forgive Me’ is easily one of Robyn’s most understated recordings so far. The track was co-written and co-produced by long time collaborator Mr. Tophat. It is a simple composition with lots of repetition in the lyrics. The track questions power dynamics in a relationship, exploring what it means to ask for forgiveness if such a thing even exists. Robyn’s vocal delivery is heavenly and although the track might float by on first listen if you are not paying close attention, it will creep up on you with every single spin.

05. Send To Robin Immediately
‘Baby Forgive Me’ naturally flows into ‘Send To Robin Immediately’ which makes the latter sound more like an interlude than a stand alone track. Of course a Robyn interlude would not be a Robyn interlude if it did not offer a strong hook of its own. The track was produced by Kindness, who let Robyn listen to one of his tracks, sampling ‘French Kiss’ by Lil Louis. Robyn loved it and wanted him to send the track to her immediately, hence the title. The track has a stellar build up and subtly goes off (I did not know this was a thing either) from the 3:15 mark, incorporating strings and dark beats. An experience!

06. Honey
‘Honey’ was released as the second single of the album and does feel like the centrepiece of it all. The track premiered in HBO’s Girls long before the final version was ready, but the finishing touches take the track to an even higher level. The result is a light, ethereal, soaring piece of synthpop with hooks in all the right places and a bittersweet taste.

07. Between The Lines
‘Between The Lines’ underlines Robyn’s unconditional love for dance music and she explained how creating this groove based tune changed her songwriting process. The production of the chorus takes us back to the house and dance music of the 90s while the middle-eight will make you want to get up and get your life on the dancefloor. ‘Between The Lines’ is easily the bop of this record and will definitely appeal to the fans that find Honey a bit too mellow in comparison to her earlier work.

08. Beach2k20
‘Beach2k20’ easily sounds the most experimental and unusual on this record. The base of the track was created by Mr. Tophat and during a session on Ibiza the idea for the rest of the tune started. Robyn’s vocal delivery is a mix of singing and spoken word about making plans to have dinner and drinks and go party. Fans have voiced how they believe the track might be written from the perspective of someone trying to beat depression by going out and surrounding themselves with other people.

09. Ever Again
Robyn saved the best for last this time! ‘Ever Again’ is the best pop track this album has to offer and with an album like this, that is quite the accomplishment. Robyn and Mount wrote it as the last track in the process. The track is based on a funky guitar riff joined by stunning synths and a dreamy chorus in which Robyn promises herself she is never going to let her heart be broken again. The cute, infectious tune keeps slowly building towards the middle-eight, after which it properly explodes and goes the f*** off, as they say today. Robyn’s high notes over that drop are the cherry on top. What a tune!

Robyn truly outdid herself with a pop album that is so much more than just that. Listening Honey is an ethereal experience from start to finish. I would almost say it was worth the eight year wait!

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