Saturday, March 17, 2007

Your fingers in the cookie jar

Just a couple of things to go over tonight really, so I won't keep you long.

First up, apologies for not updating much lately. That's something that I don't say a lot so feel privileged. I guess there hasn't been much I've heard lately that's made me think, "I've got to write something about this right now". Pretty much all the new stuff that I've heard lately has brought forth a resigned "meh". Except for that Stooges album but that was for all the wrong reasons. Christ, it's bad! How the hell did they manage to shit on such a fine legacy from such a huge height in one fell swoop? It's been on the cards for best part of a couple of decades but Iggy has now, officially, lost it completely.

Also, as some of you will know, I've got a few other irons in the fire as of late, with my new blog and writing bits and bobs for other people, yada yada yada. My dog ate it. I can't do P.E. today because I've forgot my kit. It's not you, it's me.

Anyway, I'd like to take some time to revisit an old obsession, one that will be very familiar to regular readers...

Yep, it's been a while since I've had an excuse to write about Robyn on these pages, but with the pending UK release of her eponymous album (originally released just about everywhere else in 2005), complete with some new-ish bells and whistles, I thought it might have been time to re-appraise THE best pop album of the 21st century thus far.

First of all, what's different? Well, Robyn's seen fit to inject new life into the album by mucking about with the sequencing, re-recording a few tracks and throwing in some tracks that weren't on the original, but won't be new to hardened Robyn obsessives. So we get the inclusion of the superb, 'With Every Heartbeat' and her cover of Teddybears STHLM's 'Cobrastyle', new, digitised versions of 'Bum Like You' and 'Robotboy' and 'Konichiwa Bitches' coming charging like a bull out the gate as the first track proper.

The changes don't take any of the shine of the album, but they're not always totally successful. For instance, 'Cobrastyle', as fun as it is to hear Robyn spitting patois, feels a little incongruous and a little too much like a b-side (which it was originally anyway). The inclusion of 'With Every Heartbeat' is welcome though, especially coming as it does hard on the heels of the superlative, 'Be Mine!'. By the end of 'With Every Heartbeat' you feel like you've really been put through it. I know it's just pop music, but those two songs, one after the other is pretty much as heartbreaking as it gets.

On the newly beat-driven versions of 'Bum Like You' and 'Robotboy', I agree with Perpetua. 'Robotboy' is actually improved by its digital makeover but 'Bum Like You' loses a little in transition. Sure, you could probably slip it into a DJ set now, but the original was a masterclass in stripped-down pop balladry, all vulnerable/tough and witty with it. The new mix seems a little too glossy in comparison.

Also, my main gripe is that 'Konichiwa Bitches' is not as good an opener as 'Who's That Girl?'. Both are brilliant statements of intent, but 'Who's That Girl?' better sums up the album's main themes of contradiction, desperation and strength of will in a way that 'Konichiwa Bitches' just doesn't. That song is great, don't get me wrong, but it feels a touch clownish when compared to the rest of the assembled tracks here. It's basically Robyn's attempt at writing an outrageously braggadocious hip-hop track. She nails it, no doubt, but it feels a little too much like a pastiche next to the stark honesty and candour found elsewhere.

Maybe I'm over-analysing things (someone has to) and, essentially, it's still the same album I fell in love with eighteen months ago, but the maxim of if it ain't broke, don't fix it, most definitely rings true with this one.

Compare and contrast:- Robyn - Bum Like You (original) (mp3)
Robyn - Bum Like You (new version) (mp3)

In other news...

OMG! New DFA radio mixes! Go git 'em!

Perpetua again, the bastard has only gone and nailed everything that I was thinking about LCD Soundsystem's 'Someone Great' before I had a chance to. Swine! Although, isn't the lyric, "There shouldn't be this reign of silence"? That's what I hear anyway.

Not music-related, but I've been really getting into online comic strip Achewood lately. So should you. Start from the beginning and work your way forward though or you won't have a clue what's going on.



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