ROBYN with MALUCA and NATALIA KILLS at Sound Academy (11 Polson), Friday (November 12), 7 pm. All ages. $23.50. Sold out. See listing. POSTPONED
There's a delightful moment near the end of Robyn's new single, Indestructible, when the song's wistful arpeggio gives way to a squelching retro symphonic synth solo. It's a brief interlude, but one that exemplifies the playful and sincere approach the Swedish pop star brings to her craft.
"I've been listening to a lot of old disco, techno and house, and we approached this record with that in mind," says Robyn, born Robin Miriam Carlsson. "The pulsating bass and the arpeggios and the synths - they just obviously had to go into a solo. We were like, ‘We have to have a synth solo on this record.' It's so nerdy and so beautiful. It's like ear candy."
Indestructible is on Body Talk (Konichiwa), the final album in a three-part triptych the 31-year-old undertook as a "practical solution" to the creative frustrations she experienced following the release of 2005's Robyn.
The typical music industry cycle requires an artist to spend months recording an album and then years touring and promoting it. But Robyn chose to alternate between studio time and touring in quick succession, allowing the experiences to cross-pollinate. Body Talk Pt. 1 came out in June, and Body Talk Pt. 2 in September. Body Talk, out November 22, features five songs from the previous two plus five new ones.
"The interaction between studio work and touring interests me," she says. "When you're in the studio for one and a half years, you usually get quite isolated and a little nerdy about your record. You maybe don't look at it from the practical perspective of how to communicate it live. This has given me a chance to merge those worlds."
The experiment has paid off, both creatively and commercially. Body Talk is the year's best pop album, an exuberant ode to club culture and the entangled emotions that can surface on the dance floor. Its influences vary from dancehall and gangsta rap to minimal house and techno, united by four-to-the-floor beats, epic bass lines and Robyn's unwavering focus on big, beautiful pop melodies.
The goal, she says, was to celebrate those moments when commercial pop embraces a musical subculture and obliterates the barriers. "For me, club music is about a movement. It's about how people relate to themselves and their surroundings. That's where I feel at home and inspired."
Body Talk also marks a reunion with Max Martin, the Britney Spears and NSync hitmaker who produced a pair of top-10 singles for Robyn in the mid-90s. The resultant (and appropriately titled) song Time Machine is a massive fist-pumper of a club jam about longing for a second chance.
"I consciously decided not to work with him on the last album because I had to figure things out for myself," Robyn explains. "It was nostalgic to go back into the studio together.
"For me, it's perfect timing - I've come full circle. It's a way for me to show that I'm not trying to distance myself from where I come from. It's still all about the songs."