Almost every track on Robyn’s Body Talk Pt. 1 sounded like a smash single; in fact, most of them were released promotionally in one form or another. On the contrary, the second installment in the trilogy feels like it’s filled with album tracks—albeit album tracks from a pretty fucking fantastic album. “We Dance to the Beat” is sick, a sister song to the even more irreverent “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What to Do,” and “Love Kills” would be a highlight even on Pt. 1. But as a standalone album, Body Talk Pt. 2 is a minor letdown following the near-perfection of its predecessor.
Producer Klas Åhlund once again does most of the heavy lifting here, while Diplo handles “Criminal Intent,” which nearly curdles due to its cheesiness but is saved by a vocal performance that is just the right ratio of sass and cute. In a just world, the Snoop Dogg collaboration “U Should Know Better” would out-spin Katy Perry and Doggy Dogg’s “California Gurls” on U.S. radio, but it’s tempting to retract that endorsement solely for the repeated paraphrasing of the Maya Angelou quote “When you know better, you do better.” Kleerup’s contribution, “In My Eyes,” is good, but it pales in comparison to Pt. 1‘s “Dancing on My Own,” which, though produced by Patrik Berger, was a far better successor to Kleerup’s own “With Every Heartbeat.” There’s a danger that by the time the final installment of Body Talk drops, the formula is going to sound a little stale. If the series is a three-course meal (to continue the metaphor from my review of Pt. 1), none of them should taste like leftovers.
Luckily, I’m a music critic, not a food critic, and Pt. 2 is further evidence that Robyn is still one of the most consistently innovative major-label pop artists working today. One novel aspect of the Body Talk project (in addition to its staggered release, of course) is the introduction of a track from the following chapter in the series by way of an acoustic version of the song. Here, “Hang with Me”—presented with just piano, strings, and vocals on Pt. 1—is given the full-on disco-pop treatment, and the orchestral rendition of “Indestructible” that closes Pt. 2 will presumably be reprised in similar fashion. If the acoustic version of the song is any indication, the forthcoming “four to the floor” mix is likely to match or even surpass both “With Every Heartbeat” and “Dancing on My Own” for sheer emo power in Robyn’s increasingly impressive canon.