For the past twenty-five years, since she was a young teen-ager, the singer Robyn has been on the cutting edge of pop music. Her sound is sparse and complex, influenced by electro and dance music while preserving the catchiness of pop. After a brief stint with Max Martin early in her career, Robyn has avoided the big hit-making producers who put their stamp on an artist. Instead she’s produced, written, and performed all her own work, becoming a kind of oxymoron: an indie pop star.
“Body Talk,” Robyn’s previous album, came out in 2010, and, for many of the years that followed, Robyn has been out of the public eye. Following a breakup and a close friend’s death, she slipped into a depression serious enough that she had trouble getting out of bed and leaving her house. She eventually started recording again and recently released an album called “Honey.” (The New Yorker’s Jia Tolentino wrote,“the force of her conviction continues to hold together what often seems impossible, musically or otherwise: maximum sadness, felt as the bedrock of absolute joy.”) Robyn, who lives in her native Sweden, spoke with David Remnick about the many years of difficulties that went into making “Honey.”
Plus, the pop-music critic Amanda Petrusich picks three favorites for 2018, and the fight director B. H. Barry gives a lesson in brutal mayhem with music.