9 Songs, 40 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

If Robyn has found peace or happiness, you wouldn’t necessarily know it by listening to her first album in eight years. Opener “Missing U” sets the mood, with wistful lines about stopped clocks and empty spaces left behind. Yet it’s somehow one of Honey’s more upbeat tracks, with an insistent rhythm and glittery arpeggios that recall the brightest moments of 2010’s Body Talk.

At its best, Robyn’s music has always straddled the line between club-ready dance and melancholy pop, and her strongest singles to date, “Dancing On My Own” and “Be Mine!,” strike this balance perfectly. But never before have we heard the kind of emotional intensity that possesses Honey; in the years leading up to it, Robyn suffered through the 2014 death of longtime collaborator Christian Falk and a breakup with her partner Max Vitali (though they’ve since reunited). A few one-off projects aside, she mostly withdrew from music and public life, so Honey is a comeback in more ways than one.

Produced with a handful of collaborators, like Kindness’ Adam Bainbridge and Metronomy’s Joseph Mount, the album mostly abandons the disco of "Missing U," opting to pair Robyn’s darker lyrics with more understated, house-influenced textures. She gives in to nostalgia on “Because It’s in the Music” (“They wrote a song about us...Even though it kills me, I still play it anyway”) and gets existential on “Human Being” (“Don’t shut me out, you know we’re the same kind, a dying race”).

But for all the urgent and relatable rawness, Honey is not all doom and gloom: By the time closer “Ever Again” rolls around, she’s on the upswing, and there’s a glimmer of a possible happy ending. “I swear I’m never gonna be brokenhearted ever again,” she sings, as if to convince herself. “I’m only gonna sing about love ever again.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

If Robyn has found peace or happiness, you wouldn’t necessarily know it by listening to her first album in eight years. Opener “Missing U” sets the mood, with wistful lines about stopped clocks and empty spaces left behind. Yet it’s somehow one of Honey’s more upbeat tracks, with an insistent rhythm and glittery arpeggios that recall the brightest moments of 2010’s Body Talk.

At its best, Robyn’s music has always straddled the line between club-ready dance and melancholy pop, and her strongest singles to date, “Dancing On My Own” and “Be Mine!,” strike this balance perfectly. But never before have we heard the kind of emotional intensity that possesses Honey; in the years leading up to it, Robyn suffered through the 2014 death of longtime collaborator Christian Falk and a breakup with her partner Max Vitali (though they’ve since reunited). A few one-off projects aside, she mostly withdrew from music and public life, so Honey is a comeback in more ways than one.

Produced with a handful of collaborators, like Kindness’ Adam Bainbridge and Metronomy’s Joseph Mount, the album mostly abandons the disco of "Missing U," opting to pair Robyn’s darker lyrics with more understated, house-influenced textures. She gives in to nostalgia on “Because It’s in the Music” (“They wrote a song about us...Even though it kills me, I still play it anyway”) and gets existential on “Human Being” (“Don’t shut me out, you know we’re the same kind, a dying race”).

But for all the urgent and relatable rawness, Honey is not all doom and gloom: By the time closer “Ever Again” rolls around, she’s on the upswing, and there’s a glimmer of a possible happy ending. “I swear I’m never gonna be brokenhearted ever again,” she sings, as if to convince herself. “I’m only gonna sing about love ever again.”

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About Robyn

As a child, Robyn spent a good chunk of time touring with her parents’ experimental theater group—an experience that ignited one of the more unusual trajectories in modern pop. Discovered performing at a school assembly, Robyn (born Robin Miriam Carlsson in Stockholm in 1979) launched her professional career at 15, cowriting every song on 1995’s Robyn Is Here, including “Show Me Love” and “Do You Know (What It Takes),” both of which crossed over outside Sweden and made her a genuine if somewhat reluctant star. Burned by the conservatism of the industry (especially when it came to the treatment of young women), she left her label in the early 2000s in order to start her own—a move that essentially set her back to square one, but also made her an emblem of independence at a time when pop, as a sound, was beginning to split from the conventions of the business. Working slowly, deliberately, and with a small circle of collaborators (including Klas Åhlund of Teddybears and Joseph Mount of Metronomy), she helped redefine pop as something that could be cool and almost boutique, releasing a string of singles and EPs (including 2010’s Body Talk series) by turns vulnerable and empowering, triumphant and deeply bittersweet—bangers you could weep to. After taking a nearly eight-year-long break from releasing solo music (a gamble almost unheard-of for a pop artist in their prime), Robyn returned in 2018 with Honey, recasting loss—romantic and personal—as the fire in which strong hearts are forged. “I wish everyone could have a fan club that would just cheer them on and root for them,” she told Beats 1’s Tom Thorogood. “What if you have people on your Instagram, texting you, ‘Yeah, I’m so excited you’re going to work!’” It was a joke, of course, but the sentiment—bringing the rush of pop to a human scale—is one she built a career on.

HOMETOWN
Stockholm, Sweden
GENRE
Pop
BORN
June 12, 1979

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