Pop music as we know it and hear it wouldn’t sound the same if it weren’t for Robyn. The sweeping success of her Body Talk series with its body-crushing synths and soul-choking storylines of loneliness, vulnerability and infidelity looked directly to the future. From Taylor Swift to Lorde to Carly Rae Jepsen, we heard the specter of Robyn’s dancefloor tearjerkers at the heart of every pop star’s music in the eight years since Body Talk’s release.
During those eight years, the sound of the genre she impacted so deeply has been missing her presence; without new music from Robyn, pop has felt lonelier than she did in the corner, watching you kiss her, on “Dancing on My Own.”
“Honey,” her latest release from her forthcoming album of the same name, is Robyn at her rawest and most distilled form. It’s a languid piece of music, one that could run for 72 hours straight and never feel entirely unwelcome. She first teased an unfinished version in an episode of Girls last year, an homage to first season’s memorable use of “Dancing on My Own” in a bonding moment where Hannah and Marnie dance to the song in their apartment. YouTube rips that were inexplicably never taken down by HBO or Robyn’s own label became a balm for fans who had become insatiable while waiting for new solo music from the pop star. It’s rare that a promise held for so long deserves the anticipation it fuels.
Over nearly five minutes, Robyn lets go of the body-jolting kick of her past sound to try for something deceptively serene. “Honey” feels like a sea, this one golden-colored and opaque as it moves with her timidly powerful voice. It’s hard not to drown in it as she promises: “No, you’re not going to get what you need/Baby, I have what you want/Come get your honey.” It’s an enticing promise but tastes more bitter than sweet, like a siren calling sailors to their death. But that of course is where the brilliance in Robyn’s earworm tricks lie.