Throwback Album: Robyn's Body Talk-- Guest Article by The Sometimes Island
I’ve always been a late bloomer with bubblegum running through my veins, so it makes complete sense for me to be talking about Robyn’s absolutely classic Body Talk. If you aren’t aware of this Swedish powerhouse, she’s been in the music game since childhood and splashed onto the scene in 1997 with her first hit “Show Me Love”, a 90’s classic. I wasn’t aware of Robyn at this time, and wouldn’t be until my 20’s when she released Body Talk.
There are so many albums that have played a formative role in my musical career, from the usual suspects like The Beatles or Radiohead to lesser known artists like jazz pianist Brad Mehldau’s Largo, or ambient polymath Brian Eno’s epic Thursday Afternoon. However, when Robyn released Body Talk, it was the culmination of her leaving her major label 6 years prior when they had rejected her new “electro-pop” sound, and the parallel to my life was uncanny. I’d just started DJing and was learning how to produce my own music in 2010. My previous musical experience was singing and playing guitar in rock bands, which I thank for giving me a solid background in playing a variety of instruments and an understanding of songwriting and music theory. I just hadn’t found my voice yet.
The first I heard from Body Talk was a track featuring Snoop Dogg called “U Should Know Better”, and it was actually not love at first sight. I found it intriguing and full of personality… but I didn’t fully “get it” right away. It kept me listening though, and I found I did immediately like the Jamaican influence of Robyn’s collaboration with Diplo on “Dancehall Queen”. I stumbled upon a remix of opening track “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do” that quickly became one of my go-to’s in my early DJ sets, and developed my appreciation for the original.
It was when I heard “Dancing On My Own” that everything clicked. It was something of a radio hit at the time (even though no one listened to the radio in 2010 too) and would later go on to be featured in a rather iconic scene of HBO’s Girls. The simplicity and emotional heft of the lyrics punched me right in the heart. Something deep down had been keeping the entire Body Talk album at a distance, since on it’s face it wasn’t really “me”, or what I knew “me” to be at the time. “Dancing On My Own” smashed down that wall and drew it and the rest of the songs off the album into the fiber of my being. By the time I heard “Call Your Girlfriend”, I was hopelessly in love.
It wasn’t long before I could be found in my car belting out every single word of every single song as loud as I could, with no regard for notes that were “out of my range”. I got there. I credit Body Talk with teaching me that I can sing however I like, be it as a man or as a woman. Masculine conceptions of what I should be listening to based on my gender identification went out the window. This was a time of massive personal growth for me as both a singer and a songwriter. The production style of Robyn’s songs informed my own style, that was just a sapling at the time. Now I had the blueprint, and no matter how hard I tried to imitate Robyn, I’d fail at that, and end up sounding like a better version of me instead. It was a huge help to me to get out of my limited conceptions of who I am, and to just create.
Body Talk is split into three parts, and you have to do some digging to find all of them on the popular streaming services… they tend to list only an edited down compilation of the three. Do the digging. I absolutely adore this album. It’s so catchy. It has some sticky sweet moments, and some dark and brooding moments. It’s one of the few albums that’s powerful enough to make me cry, out of the blue. If you haven’t listened, or have only heard the hits, I recommend you find all three parts and check them out. You might find yourself transformed, too.
Guest Article by by Matt Blankenship Jr of The Sometimes Island
The Sometimes Island is a form of dance music for the new generation. Fusing electro beats with breezy, layered lyrics, Matt Blankenship Jr, AKA The Sometimes Island, brings a new brand of music to his upcoming 7-track EP titled ‘Bad People’, set to drop in July 28th, followed by a West Coast tour.
7/29 Los Angles, CA EL CID (Bad People EP release show)
7/31 Folsom, CA Nicholson’s Musicafe
8/1 Ashland, OR Oberon’s Tavern
8/2 Seattle, WA Substation
8/3 Port Townsend, WA Boiler Room
8/4 Portland, OR Ranger Station
8/5 Eureka, CA Little Red Lion
8/6 Reno, NV Sparks Lounge
8/7 Santa Cruz, CA Bocci’s Cellar
8/8 Pacifica, CA Winters Tavern
8/9 San Francisco, CA Revolution Cafe
8/11 San Diego, CA City Pub
For fans of: Generationals, Spoon, MGMT