The Last Drop

Reviews and Clues on Music That Matters (to me)

New Issue: Honey

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Honey Album CoverRobyn, Honey – Winter is gone. No, this is not that reference (I somehow spared myself from the lemming like following that took over most rational beings over the past decade. Here’s to frugality). Summer is finally peaking its head through the endless German clouds. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t honor some of the best music that kept me through the cold and dark days. There was a lot to be had at the start of the year, but I must confess only one enchanted me. I hold a special place in my heart (well, really in all parts of my body, since 2010) for whatever Robyn has to give. And Honey gives and gives and gives and gives.

I try not to subject myself to the rhetoric of how an artist can “improve” upon great work. The mere concept of improvement and how that is quantified or qualified as a musician is troubling enough. And yet upon the first listen of Honey, what came to me immediately was how this album was a leap forward. It has all of the elements you come to expect – thoughtful dance inspired pop, minimal beats until they aren’t, a nostalgic wink towards ’90s R&B and house. What it lacks is the usual bravado, the wrecking ball attitude she carries even in the midst of hurt. We all remember this. No other pop star has mastered this art of vulnerable impenetrability (we all know Beyonce is a goddess in a different realm, even if her husband has a Becky on the side). For Honey, she steps off this duality into the realm of pure intimacy.

Everything feels scaled back, bare. Her vocals tend to float in the mix rather than overpower. Every song seems to shimmer to an end, more often flowing into the next moment like one long diary confessional. I wouldn’t have thought it feasible for Robyn to start an album with a bold, non-ironic or defensively tinged ask, but “Missing U” is just that. No pretense. No second guessing. No looking towards the future. Comfortably sitting in the past, reminiscing and furtively in want. Nearly halfway through, she’s begging. Panting and in whispers but “Baby Forgive Me” lays it all out on the line. True, she finds some measure of self confidence in “Honey” and “Between the Lines” that helps the whole thing seem rooted in reality – she can’t be all in want. This is a partnership of equals. But more often than not, she’s asking for permission, not demanding it. Her love is felt as a reflection of a connection – only if the other person feels that connection and she can confirm it. Rather than just sit in the emotions, she’s asking to make sure that it’s mutual. It’s a level of insecurity that is hard to communicate sincerely. Either you dwell too long and it becomes blind hopelessness or it’s too shallow, a masked hubris. Not only does it feel sincere, Robyn makes it all the more approachable as it tends come off as a soliloquy than a dialogue. Even when she ends the album outspokenly asking for more, to have it all out on the table, it’s more like a self affirmation you would say to yourself in the mirror than to a scorned lover.

Robyn has always sought to bring truth to dance music. In Honey, she brings a level of sensitivity that transforms dance into the ultimate love letter .

Written by TopDrop

May 27th, 2019 at 3:11 pm

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