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Röyksopp & Robyn 'Do It Again' Album Review
11-06-2014 01:11 | 0 comment(s)
Röyksopp The first studio snippet from Robyn and Röyksopp's collaborative mini-album Do It Again, shared stealthily in a trailer video for their joint tour, gave off an unfamiliar jolt of sex and circuitry. The Swedish pop upsetter and a Kraftwerk-worthy robotic voice, something like a filthy-minded Speak & Spell, plainly stated that they wanted each other. Surrounded by hard-driven electronic beats and billowing synths, you could almost imagine them in some fantastical dance club, about to slip away into the shadows.

But Do It Again is no chance encounter, as the singer born Robin Carlsson and the Norwegian duo of Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland have taken oddly related trajectories. She's the former teen-pop star who ditched her label and struck out on her own, sparking the spectacular career resurgence that led to 2010's Body Talk album trilogy; they're the early-2000s chillout-electronica guys who shrugged off easy categorization and increasingly worked more with vocalists, from Annie to the Knife's Karin Dreijer Andersson. When Robyn and Röyksopp finally recorded together on a couple of tracks in 2009 and 2010, it was a meeting between two veteran acts with a gift for making broad appeal feel almost coincidental.

This Scandinavian electro-pop trio's most extensive studio team-up so far digs deeper into that shared affinity for stylistic exploration, patient offhandedness, and a communicative, dancefloor-friendly pop sensibility. Though technically an EP, the 35-minute Do It Again has the epic sweep of a proper album, with contemplative instrumental passages helping frame the more conventional songwriting. Still, the noodlier bits belie the project's origins in the respective artists' post-album creative hangovers: the freedom they've given themselves on Do It Again is both what makes the record refreshing and what keeps it from satisfying listeners as a more streamlined full-length would. Do It Again is an excellent mini-album, then, but it's easy to suspect that the masterpiece will be the tour, with Robyn and Röyksopp each performing a set and then all taking the stage together. There could be pink lasers.

Another way to approach Do It Again is as a maxi single. The title track lacks Robyn's usual knack for a strong, distinctive concept—just last year, Scotland's Camera Obscura had a charming single with the same name—but her ever-expressive, deeply felt vocals can make even strobe-lit "one more time" hedonism worth doing again. It's galloping, whooshing dance-pop, booming enough for festival EDM tents and melodic enough for spazzing out in front of laptop speakers, with an undercurrent of melancholy that makes it well worth pressing repeat. If the rest of the disc contained just remixes of "Do It Again", it'd still be some lustworthy vinyl.

But stopping at the title track would mean missing out on the rest that Do It Again has to offer. The relaxed format gives Robyn and Röyksopp space to sprawl out in some rewarding, if idiosyncratic, directions. Wordless finale "Inside the Idle Hour Club" is a moonlit synth-groove excursion that wouldn't have been out of place on Berge and Bruntland's 2010 LP Senior, and it's no slam to point out it would also be an ideal mellow interlude during a live show. "Every Little Thing" is something like a contemporary Italo-disco power ballad, as Robyn yearns in harmony with cyborg versions of herself. And the 10-minute "Monument" could turn out to be the set's most enduring track: Though the extended saxophone portion drags, Robyn's prophetic vision of the future here is unique in her catalog and deeply compelling. "When the moment comes," she intones weightily, "I can say I did all with love."

Which brings us back to "Sayit", the one with the dirty-talking gadget. Robyn serenaded a "Robotboy" on a slightly twee track from her masterful 2005 self-titled album. She was in love with a presumably metaphorical man-machine on her first Röyksopp collaboration, "The Girl and the Robot", from 2009's Junior (their other previous partnership came on "None of Dem", from Body Talk Pt. 1). When this uncanny yet euphoric, four-on-the-floor raver's Wall-E equivalent calls himself a "fuck mechanic," it's a rare moment of carnality in Robyn's discography, but it's also a silly joke. The more important phrase might be the one he utters right before: "Pleasure machine." If Do It Again is the physical artifact of Robyn and Röyksopp's union, it's extravagant and left of center, but it's above all generous. They did it all with love, for our pleasure. Or, as Robyn sings on "Do It Again", "It hurts so good."

7.7/10

Pitchfork Media



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