The breakneck pace of today’s music industry is unforgiving of time. An album released six months ago is regarded as a relic from eight years ago, and that’s in the best of circumstances (ask Justin Timberlake).
With that logic, 2010’s Body Talk, the pop opus by Swedish singer Robyn, is a fossil of an LP. And yet “Dancing on My Own” sounds as forward-thinking as it did back then, conveying irresistible heartbreak through booming, fuzzy electropop. Still, the near-decade since its release hasn’t been too kind to her genre. EDM went mainstream, and quickly became a slot machine of hugely popular DJs, capable vocalists and anonymous tracks striving for cynical radio dominance. The genre’s ubiquity backfired, as it was cast aside in favor of streaming-friendly hip-hop in the past two years, leaving many pop stars who relied on it scrambling.
Timing be damned, “Missing U”, Robyn’s return to solo work (she collaborated with Röyksopp and La Bagatelle Magique on two mini-projects in 2014 and 2015) is much welcomed. The track’s opening glittery synths and pulsing beat are instantly familiar, as is Robyn’s achingly emotive vocal. She is still a master at heartbreak disco, this time singing of “the empty space” her lost love left behind. Like all great Robyn songs, “Missing U” subverts the calculated electronic production and bubbles up human warmth to the surface, making for a cathartic trip to the dance floor.
It is a wonderful trip, but it’s one Robyn has taken before, with “Hang with Me”, “Call Your Girlfriend”, the aforementioned “Dancing”. If “Missing U” disappoints at all, it’s because it doesn’t deviate much from her previous work. That, and the lack of a satisfying climatic finish; the song has an infinity loop feel, as if you could be dancing (and crying) in the club ’til the wee hours of the morning. A musical reprieve of some kind would’ve been nice.
“Missing U” doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and that may be by design. As noted, eight years away is a long time, and likely deserves a reminder that Robyn is the undisputed queen of electropop, especially the kind that leaves you an emotional wreck. It’s comfortable return to form that will likely be a mainstay on the playlists of European (and hopefully American) DJs well into winter. For those of us who remember Robyn well, “Missing U” is hopefully a palate cleanser for the kind of inventive musical vision that Body Talk was a wonderful product of.
Listen to “Missing U” below: