Röyksopp & Robyn Revel in Dance-Pop Excess on ‘Do It Again’
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Röyksopp and Robyn do it again because they aced the first go-round: Back in 2009, the Tromsø synth twosome and the Stockholm star united for “The Girl and the Robot,” a No. 2 Norwegian hit on the third of Röyksopp’s four chart-topping albums back home. Whereas the duo’s elaborate atmospherics can be often chilly, they turned up the heat for Robyn like they did for Annie on “Heartbeat,” a record second in Scandinavian dance-pop greatness only to Robyn’s Kleerup collabo “With Every Heartbeat.” On “Robot,” she sang of being abandoned by her workaholic beau, and her all-too-human longing never abated: There was no release, no chorus to provide relief, just verses that got thicker and thicker with claustrophobic electro-symphonic tension as this lonely soul pined her heart out. Not even the steady Eurodisco pulse suggested an escape.
By contrast, “Monument,” the opening song on their new co-credited EP, offers a stately manifesto. “This will be a beacon when I’m gone / So that when the moment comes I can say I did it all with love,” Robyn declares as cohorts Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland conjure android Egyptians building the Pyramids. They’ve sampled her and Jamie Irrepressible while pouring on the sustain so that the pair’s backing vocals resemble a ghostly choir of unsettling harmonies, like those overdubbed sighs in 10cc’s “I’m Not in Love.” Rolling tom-toms and super-sexy sax enter and the final three of its 10 minutes modulate downward, deviating into nocturnal sultriness. Kjetil Moester honks his sax so alternately tenderly and robustly that the initially august cut ultimately lives up to what Robyn earlier proclaims: This is loving.
Much of the rest doesn’t attain that level of finesse. “Sayit” reprises the girl + robot theme of their earlier alliance with a European update on classic Detroit techno: A computer-generated voice states its desire for Robyn, who merely talks back when she could be singing. This she does on “Every Little Thing,” a simple beat ballad given a hugely dramatic rendering. The concluding instrumental electro lullaby “Inside the Idle Hour Club” undulates attractively, but, as with the other top-heavy two, its composition is too marginal to support the 10-minute arrangement’s repetition.
That’s so not the case on “Do It Again,” a shrewd commentary on the YOLO theme of recent Kesha/Gaga/Rihanna/Miley/Icona Pop hits. The “It” of its title is never disclosed, but — as suggested by a walloping beat, glaringly bright synths, and an absolutely unrelenting hook — it’s probably compulsive clubbing, hard drugs, sport sex, or, most likely, all three.
After the sole verse and urgent chorus are repeated, an unexpectedly dark bridge descends and Robyn admits to her partner in excess, “We should not be friends.” That’s a shockingly realistic reversal for this vehemently fictional style of pop. Yet she and her pal revert right back to “it,” maintaining their “hurts so good” ritual above all else — a cycle mirrored by the cut’s circular, reiterating structure. Joyously addictive mutual self-destruction is what “Do It Again” is all about. Just try to only play it once.