Do It Again
Röyksopp & Robyn
35:23 min • Dog Triumphant, Wall of Sound, Cooking Vinyl • May 23, 2014
Andrew Darley reviews
In 2009, Röyksopp released their third studio album, Junior, with its accompanying record Senior exactly a year later. The former featured their brand of electronic pop, celebrating the emotions and uncertainties of youth. It seemed a perfect fit then that they invited Robyn to work on a song together, since the feisty singer had reasserted herself in pop with a self-penned-and-produced album, following years of being under label and creative control. What came from their session was ‘Girl And The Robot’, a song that steals the album in a sweeping, propulsive mode in dealing with a girl’s malaise in love. Subsequently, when it came to making Robyn’s Body Talk album, they teamed up again and conjured ‘None Of Dem’ in which Robyn vents her frustrated claustrophobia with the world over a winding hip-hop beat. In a funny way, the song could be a mantra of their creative relationship together and may preface this record. She pleas for “some kind of new sound” since “none of these beats are raw, none of these beats ever break the law”.
It makes complete sense, then, that they have decided to join forces for a full album with their mutual fascination in discovering new ground. Do It Again is a short player of five songs of very diverse spheres of electronic dance music. They explore every spectrum of the genre, from chillout crossing to techno, with perpetual rhythms, minimal lyrical style and extended song lengths. The album opens with the ten-minute ‘Monument’. Inspired by the art of Juliana Cerqueira Leite, in which the artist created two towering sculptures composed of clay in which she entered and dug out its form using her body, the song reflects the potential of how art can capture the essence and energy of a moment, which will then last forever. It’s a meditative ode to the power of art but it also refers to the intent of their work together. In promotional interviews, the trio explained that the idea is not necessarily to bring their two worlds together but to create something wholly unique in itself and outside of anything they’ve made before.
The song the record takes its name from is a gigantic electronic pop affair of ill-fated love; disregarding people’s advice and throwing caution to the wind just to experience something “that hurts so good”. Its pleasure/pain complex taps into the melancholic danceability that defines some of Robyn’s finest work. Her inimitable personality gallops through, sounding simultaneously tough and vulnerable. Despite the varying styles of electronic music here, they have made the record to be a whole piece with horns and saxophone featuring, sometimes implicitly, on most songs. It gives a blissed-out texture to the groove of ‘Monument’ and the dabbles of brass on ‘Do It Again’ gives it an extra kick as it comes to a climax.
Despite how satisfying the music is, it’s not entirely certain whether they have made something exclusive from their own respective material. ‘Inside The Idle Hour Club’ is a layered, ambient instrumental that would not be out of place on one of Röyksopp’s previous albums, whilst the title song would be right at home amongst the tear-jerking blockbusters of Robyn’s Body Talk album. They have certainly brought some of their strongest facets out in each other, yet there is a blurredness on whether some songs stay a little close to the achievements of their earlier output.
‘Sayit’ is an electronic beast that is almost a continuation of the story of their first collaboration in ‘Girl And The Robot’. Over a hammering techno, Robyn and a robotic voice (created using a children’s talking toy) profess their lust for each other. It’s partly bonkers with a huge sense of fun, even though it contains chaotic and sinister peaks. With six minutes of idiosyncratic glitches and one-off sounds, the trio fool around with noise and the toy to make it say outlandish things like “Pleasure Machine, Fuck Mechanic”. It’s deeply rooted in the heart of the album; to make music within a relationship that is based on mutual respect and love for creation. The songs on Do It Again have no agenda other than to be the most satisfyingly, forward-thinking songs they could possibly create together. As Robyn pours on the album’s opener “I did it all with love”. And it shows.