Röyksopp and Robyn: A Mini-Album Done Right

I first heard the seemingly simple title track from Röyksopp’s and Robyn’s new mini-album, Do It Again, in a YouTube lyric videoFirst impression: Robyn had accomplished this sound with more panache on her various 2010 Body Talk releases. Bored, I decided to read the lyrics: “One more time / Let's do it again / Blow my mind / Do it again.” 

Now I’m all for minimalism, but this was reminding me of the slight (and slightly embarrassing) Body Talk Pt. 3 closer, “Stars 4-Ever.” I skipped onto a related video: a snippet from another track, “Monument.”

Sure, the chillout sound was new coming from Robyn (it’s more Röyksopp’s domain), but this was just a minute-and-a-half of ponderous repetition. These videos were meant to sell me on the album?

So I gave up on Do It Again. It was only when I recently overheard my brother listening to “Monument” – which was apparently 10 minutes long in full – that I was surprised by the gentlest sax solo I've ever heard. I was smitten.

You can hear a 7:48 edit of “Monument” below.

I listened to the album again – a real listen this time.

Unlike Robyn's previous scattershot mini-albums, the 35-minute Röyksopp team-up turns out to be a complete work. The title track's electropop is bookended by the midtempo "Sayit" (a more carnal relationship-with-a-robot track than Robyn’s previous bubblegum “Fembot”) and "Every Little Thing" (which, save for some dark synths, goes down a bit too easy). These midtempo tracks are in turn bookended by extended sax-infused chillouts (the closer, "Inside the Idle Hour Club," is penned by Röyksopp alone). 

But it’s not just the album's tempo that rises, peaks, and then descends. It’s the mood. The first half builds to the ecstatic "Do It Again," and then things go sour in that song's bridge. The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it bridge (“We should not be friends / We'll just do it again / If you stay around / We'll just do it again”) adds considerable subtext to otherwise generic raunchy lyrics.

In the end, that bridge becomes the point on which the album's mood pivots, creating a complex bittersweetness - or is that sweetbitterness? - to rival Robyn's best. I’m all for minimalism, and the truly collaborative Do It Again does so much with so little.

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