No one serves up catharsis quite like Robyn. Whether you need to hysterically sob or gleefully and blissfully “move your body” across a dance floor, the Swedish pop diva’s Honey is there to satisfy. Remarkably accessible, Robyn’s long-awaited follow-up to her Body Talk trio is the purest purge. It baptizes you with tears or sweat or both, bidding the promise of a deep cleanse. The only faucet necessary is a pair of headphones, or— better yet—a team of pulsing, surround-sound speakers.
Honey dives right in with the heartbreaking-yet-lustrous “Missing U,” the record’s first single and a truly prismatic display of discoteca synth. “Human Being,” follows it, building on disjointed 80s dance beats as Robyn pleas, “Don’t give up on me now.” Thumping groove-track “Because It’s In The Music” is a testimony to the power of disco and dance, and it will shake you to your very core, whatever “it” is for you. Like on her 2010 hit “Dancing On My Own,” Robyn platters sorrow in helpings of twinkly beats and deeply empathetic lyrics: “Because it’s in the music / yeah, we were dancing to it.”
If sweltering electro number “Send To Robin Immediately,” is a dancefloor high, “Honey” is the world’s sweetest comedown. It’s a song about lust, but Robyn’s “Honey” could represent any kind of nectar, whatever salve you’re jonesing for: for someone to hear you, understand you or lift you up. “Won’t you get me right where the hurt is?” Robyn sings.
“Between The Lines” allows for a rare combination of Latin flair, trappy electro-synth and burly AutoTune. It shouldn’t work, but it’s an example of this album’s genius production techniques, curated by Robyn herself. “Between The Lines” is a pulsing, electronic dreamscape, but “Beach2k20” is the soundtrack to a futuristic ocean cruise. Jazzy samba beats mesh with Robyn’s layered vocals and the occasional “Schwoop!” sound you might recognize from a departing iMessage (one of Robyn’s many cleverly modern eastern eggs).
Disco beats surface again on kicker track “Ever Again,” a relentlessly merry, bass-centric light at the end of, well, more light. It’s frankly impossible not to feel inspired or hopeful when you hear Robyn sing, “We’re never gonna be broken hearted ever again / Only gonna sing about love ever again,” unless maybe you’re a robot. But if a robot were to ever feel love, Robyn would be the one to warm its cold, indifferent hardware.
Honey is a near-flawless dance pop album. It doesn’t need political or cultural commentary to assert relevancy; in Robyn’s deep understanding of human emotion and what moves us, Honey feels dire all the same. Release through dance has long been a tactic wielded by humankind, but rarely has it felt this inclusive, kind and positively radiant.