Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2011-02-18


Robyn: Robyn (Konichiwa/Cherrytree/Interscope, 2008) Initially I was disoriented by the hype for "With Every Heartbeat," the nearest thing to processed gouda electro Robyn has put on the table, although "Eclipse" is pretty goopy too. But without that add-on, which does grow on you the way pop breakthroughs will sometimes, this 2005 EU release might never have materialized here to prepare the way for Robyn 2010, and it's not like I thought "Konichiwa Bitches" was a sell track even before I deciphered my favorite couplet a dozen plays in: "Come in with the postman like I'm a mail bomb/Comin' in your mouth make you say yum-yum." Also before I realized that the slow one tucked away at the end is also the most political song she's recorded, and it's got competition. It posits Clubland as a safe haven for life's unfortunates be they good, bad, or ugly. Yum yum. A-

Robyn: Robyn Is Here (RCA, 1997) So front-loaded it could almost be a vinyl album with a hot side and a cool side, only since the singer is 17 call them perky and caring. Positioned at four and six, the Max Martin-aided "Show Me Love" and "Do You Know (What It Takes)" are key, but without Robyn and her boys' "Bumpy Ride," "You've Got That Somethin'," and "The Last Time" at one, three, and five you wouldn't listen twice. Then, a few spins in, you notice a hint of velvet in her timbre--more like suede, really--that suggests not sensuality but emotional depth. Which in turn makes the orchestrated popsongs about romantic responsibility sound thoughtful rather than mawkish. Too bad she'll turn 21 like every other teen idol. B+

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