Swedish pop Matriarch Robyn, who’s toured with Coldplay and Katy Perry, is regarded as one of her genre’s most forward-thinking artists, but on her new “mini album” Love Is Free, out Aug. 7, she looks to the past instead of the future.
Recorded under the name La Bagatelle Magique alongside keyboardist Markus Jägerstedt and producer Christian Falk, who died last year of pancreatic cancer, the five-song set honors the club sounds of a bygone era, like a deep dive through dusty vinyl bins. The trio scrub some Stockholm polish all over a brassy cover of Arthur Russell’s 1983 disco jam “Tell You (Today),” while the title track flips an obscure house sample into a thundering ballroom anthem with New York rapper Maluca.
Here, Robyn largely steers clear of traditional choruses; these are sprawling odes to dance-floor liberation, not songs for the radio. It’s a minor shame, considering few of her pop-star peers can pen hooks as poignant and catchy as the ones she wrote on her critically acclaimed 2010 opus, Body Talk. But by taking a step back and letting the beats do the talking, Robyn shows that even in music’s flashiest corners, sometimes less really is more.
This appears in the August 17, 2015 issue of TIME.
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