Saturday, 8 December 2018

The 1975 - A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships

The 1975 - A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships

Give Yourself A Try was not a good comeback single. Two years after the release of The 1975's seminal, near perfect pop-rock second album, this new single was a disappointment. Its two note riff, repeated infinitely, is incessant. It's harmonically stagnant. Musically at least, the song goes nowhere.

Lyrically though there's more going on. While it initially seems to be about nostalgia, its repeated chorus mantra of "give yourself a try" seems aimed more at lead singer Matty Healy himself than anyone else. He's been open in public about dealing with substance abuse, which lends this song a great deal of catharsis, almost begging himself to clean up his act.

In the context of the album, Give Yourself A Try makes a lot more sense and acts as the perfect gateway to this new album with all its strengths and flaws. Lyrically it probes into Healy's own addictions and issues with modern society. Yet musically its songs are monotonous and simplistic, or rambling and insular, and too often border on the pretentious.

TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME is an upbeat song about infidelity that has proven to be the most radio friendly of the album's singles, but it too is musically on one level that goes nowhere. Inside Your Mind similarly features an irritating two note guitar riff. And closer I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes) centres on the most banal acoustic guitar chord sequence, its apparently cinematic feel ripped straight from an Oasis song (not a compliment).

Yet where the album is in part too simple, in others it's overly experimental. How To Draw/Petrichor is an extension of a previous bonus track that meanders along like a Radiohead knock-off with glitchy beats and wafting orchestrations; Sincerity Is Scary has an improvised jazz influence to match Healy verbosely going on about postmodernism and irony; The Man Who Married A Robot / Love Theme takes monotony to the extreme with a story spoken in a robotic voice about the dangers of the Internet. Across the album vocoders rub shoulders with acoustic guitars, electronics and orchestrations. But it mainly feels overblown, the profundity Healy seemingly shows in interviews not always translating to the songs themselves.

Moreover, there are too many ballads as Healy turns from Radiohead, through James Blake and Damien Rice to Morissey. Tracks like Be My Mistake, Inside Your Mind and Surrounded By Heads And Bodies are long and dreary to the point of being morose. And while these songs deal with interesting modern subjects like rehab, impenetrable thoughts and the guilt of a meaningless hookup, it turns the album into an endless slog.

And it doesn't have to be. This is a frustrating album with moments of pure brilliance overwhelmed by tonal shifts and dreary pretentiousness, moments where social conscience and musical production align. I Like America & America Likes Me is a song against the use of guns, Healy singing "I'm scared of dying" in a mournful vocoder as if his voice is stifled against the noise. It's Not Living (If It's Not With You) is a fun, hook-laden pop rock song that harks back to the band's best, until you realise it's not an ode to a lover but the drugs Healy is so desperately trying to overcome. It's a heart-wrenching twist to a smart pop song.

The album's crowning achievement though is Love It If We Made It. While the verses follow another one-note melody, here it feels more intentional, a stream of (social) consciousness. And then in the chorus it gives way to this widescreen moment of glorious euphoria where the tightly coiled music stretches its celestial wings as Healy sings the album's simplest yet most loaded lyric: "I'd love it if we made it." It's a moment of pure hope, of pop brilliance. If only the whole album was the same.

3/5

Gizzle's Choice:
* Love It If We Made It
* I Like American & America Likes Me
* It's Not Living (If It's Not With You)

Listen: 'A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships' is out now.


Sunday, 2 December 2018

New Music Friday 30/11

Mark Ronson feat. Miley Cyrus - Nothing Breaks Like A Heart

Mark Ronson feat. Miley Cyrus - Nothing Breaks Like A Heart

Miley Cyrus channeling her godmother Dolly Parton singing Jolene given a modern twist with Mark Ronson's slick production? Yes please. This is what modern day country should sound like. Probably one of the best songs Miley has done.

Add to playlist.



Grimes feat. HANA - We Appreciate Power

Grimes feat. HANA - We Appreciate Power

It's already been over three years since Grimes released her fourth album 'Art Angels', so fans have been eagerly awaiting new music. We Appreciate Power goes down the rock route, her delicate vocals juxtaposed with thrumming guitars and a riot grrrl attitude. There's plenty of drama here, but those who prefer her earlier more electronic work may be disappointed.

Worth a listen.



Emily Burns - Damn Good Liar

Emily Burns - Damn Good Liar

Another week, another Emily Burns single. But this might just be her best yet. Where most other popstars aim for banger after banger, Burns delivers smart pop that's restrained but intricately put together. The pre-chorus builds to a crescendo that never comes, the chorus muted yet cleverly punctuated beneath the vocal hook. It's a song that surprises, even when Burns is an artist who consistently delivers.

Add to playlist.



Jax Jones and Years & Years - Play

Jax Jones and Years & Years - Play

'Palo Santo' hasn't quite delivered the singles success of 'Communion', but Years & Years remain a dominant force in pop. Partnering with Jax Jones is a safe choice but the results are decent, Olly Alexander's distinctive voice rising above typical house production. Enjoyable in a "let's start Saturday night with a banger" kind of way.

Worth a listen.



Cheat Codes x Kim Petras - Feeling of Falling

Cheat Codes x Kim Petras - Feeling of Falling

Here's another solo artist partnering with a dance act to raise their profile. Feeling of Falling probably would've made a great solo single for Petras. As it stands, she sings over polished Chainsmoker's-esque production (mellow guitars and thudding beats) that's nice enough, but the chorus at least is an unexpected joy.

Worth a listen.



ZAYN - Rainberry

ZAYN - Rainberry

ZAYN has never managed to replicate the immediate success of first single Pillowtalk. Maybe that's haunting him. He's had a whole load of singles since the release of his first album, drifting further outwards from R&B into rock and pop territory as if reaching for a new twist on his sound. Rainberry feels Prince-esque, with its funk feel and synth stabs. But it feels like Malik's fame is slipping through his fingers, even with a new album due imminently.

Worth a listen.




Friday, 30 November 2018

Magic Mike Live @ The Hippodrome Theatre

Magic Mike Live @ The Hippodrome Theatre


They say people are sexier with their clothes on. Never has a truer word been said.

Magic Mike Live is of course a show about male strippers, but the men are far sexier when they're not in the semi-buff flashing rock hard abs and twinkling smiles. When they're singing love songs from behind a piano. Tap dancing. Smouldering in suits.

Funnily enough, there's the potential for an interesting show beneath all the gawping and bravado, a show about men and masculinity in all its forms, the truth about female sexual desire. The men themselves are an ethnically diverse bunch who perform multiple dance styles that trade in different shades of masculinity. Confidence. Shyness. Sensuality. Talent. The latter, more than anything, is far sexier than thrusting in a woman's face, be it singing, dancing, athleticism, spinning on a rope from the ceiling, or dancing in the rain.

Yet all this is wrapped up in some horrifying gender politics. We're told we can touch the men, that ladies these men are here for your pleasure. And the audience do as they desire, lustily, greedily grabbing for any pair of buttocks in easy reach. In seeking to flip the male gaze on its head, the show reaches an opposing, shocking extreme. Men aren't allowed to touch women in a strip club, why should women be allowed to touch men?

It's the female MC, played by Sophie Linder-Lee, who represents all the worst qualities of the show. Beyond simply being an irritating distraction between the dances, her dated jokes are full of gross-out humour that utterly cheapen the show. "My minge is like a Tesco Express," she tells us, "it's always open." Later she borders on the xenophobic, asking an Italian dancer to speak English when he lovingly describes a woman in his native language. Rather than aiming for anything nuanced or intelligent, the script is crass and the dancing animalistic to the point of pornography.

Further, it's clear the show is designed exclusively for women. The MC always addresses the audience as ladies. The humour is all female-orientated. And that's despite the multiple men in the audience, be they gay or straight, single or accompanying their spouse. There's a distinct lack of inclusion here, never straying from its heteronormative roots. A show about semi-naked men is always going to attract a gay audience; to not acknowledge that is a missed opportunity that alienates a small but not insignificant portion of the crowd.

That lack of acknowledgement stretches to the dancers themselves, too. It's great that they dive and climb into the audience from all angles to entertain everyone to the full, except anyone who isn't female. Barely a glance or a jokey wink are aimed at the male audience. Instead, these hyper-masculine dancers, so secure in their sexuality, are not so secure as to even laugh at themselves in front of another man. They are slaves to femininity.

Is all this thinking too much on a show about the simple pleasures of sex and stripping? Probably. For those audience members celebrating a birthday/hen-do/special occasion (delete as appropriate), more than tipsy on cocktails and high on the scent of pheromones, this is a highly entertaining evening of male semi-nudity, sweat, after shave and...athletic ability. 10/10 would watch again.

But with its false opening, it's framed as being something more than a shallow cheap show. Yet that's ultimately all it is. It's meant to make us feel empowered. Instead you'll need a cold shower.

2/5

Watch: Magic Mike Live runs at the Hippodrome Theatre until October 2019.


Friday, 23 November 2018

How To Catch A Krampus! @ The Pleasance Theatre

How To Catch A Krampus! @ The Pleasance Theatre

What's a Krampus? According to Central European folklore, it's a horned beast that punishes naughty children at Christmas. It's the anti-Santa, which is fitting for this anti-Christmas show from the drag queens of Sink The Pink.

The story these queens tell is a flimsy one: something about a lost child, a creepy German, and a psychic tasked with rescuing the innocent. Really, it's a loose excuse to put on an outrageous, macabre drag show. Between each of the scenes are hilarious and twisted drag skits: from joke Christmas adverts and dirty Morris dancing, to a mini operetta and more.

It's here that the queens really shine individually, giving the show a riotous feel full of bizarre humour. Ginger Johnson (who also wrote and directed the show) in particular is a brilliant leading lady, who sets the tone with charm and eases us into this spooky narrative, while Mahatma Khandi's opera moment is hilarious and unexpected.

The show is all about taking familiar ideas of panto and putting a twist on them, from riffing on pop songs (there's a particularly saucy version of Rihanna's S&M here from Lavinia Coop), to audience participation, to the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas song given a sadistic twist. The humour throughout is as crude and bawdy as you'd expect from an adult panto, and the horror twist makes this a deliciously different Christmas show.

As a piece of pure theatre it's nonsensical, with a tenuous story and production that's a little rough, though that all fits with the uproarious, hysterical, punk nature of the show. Is it entertaining? You bet your Christmas wig it is.

3/5

Watch: How To Catch A Krampus runs at the Pleasance Theatre until 23rd December.

How To Catch A Krampus! @ The Pleasance Theatre

How To Catch A Krampus! @ The Pleasance Theatre
Photos: Ali Wright

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Dietrich: Natural Duty @ Wilton's Music Hall

Dietrich: Natural Duty @ Wilton's Music Hall

So many heroes and heroines have been torn between love, romance, career and freedom, and a sense of duty - duty to family, morals or, in the case of Marlene Dietrich, to her country. Born in Berlin in 1901, the actress had a highly successful Hollywood career but renounced her German citizenship during World War II to join the American army, entertaining GIs with her cabaret performances. It's an extraordinary story that's captured here by Peter Groom in his one (wo)man drag show.

As a performer, Dietrich was a provocative figure who blurred the boundaries of gender. Her film roles were often sexually charged femme fatales, while on stage she would perform songs typically associated with men wearing top hat and tails. This translates wonderfully to Groom in drag, taking that exploration of gender a step further.

He certainly looks stunning and he encapsulates a coy girlish sexuality, expertly mimicking Dietrich's slow and seductive looks. He reflects a heightened femininity, just as she did, with a tongue in cheek, sexually liberated humour that is nonetheless poised and classy throughout.

The show itself mixes drag with cabaret and song, taking us from Hollywood starlet to wartime heroine. Groom never breaks character, presenting a sort of cabaret show within a cabaret show, his high fluttering voice and free, staccato delivery enchanting from song to song. In these moments of pure performance, he is utterly captivating.

Yet Dietrich's inner turmoil as she battles between duty to her country and a love of filmmaking is perhaps too subtly underplayed, Groom cutting a dignified stage presence that rarely breaks into relatable humanity. This is countered by the disembodied voice of a journalist asking questions during her show, a needless and forced way of pushing the narrative on that breaks the cabaret illusion.

Groom looks every bit the glamorous diva and his performance is touching. Dietrich: Natural Duty may be as featherlight as his voice, but there's just enough here to make you think.

3/5

Watch: Dietrich: Natural Duty runs at the Wilton's Music Hall until 24th November as part of the show's world tour.

Dietrich: Natural Duty @ Wilton's Music Hall
Photos: Monir El Haimar

Monday, 19 November 2018

Fanatical @ The Playground Theatre

Fanatical @ The Playground Theatre

There’s a long history of science-fiction and comic book musicals, some more successful than others. But where the likes of Little Shop of Horrors and The Rocky Horror Show have proven timeless, others have been infamous flops – looking at you Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark. Fanatical, playing at The Playground Theatre, follows suit with a tone that’s kitschy and camp, but delivers a sincere message with heart.

Rather than being a sci-fi musical itself, it’s a musical about a sci-fi convention and the fans who attend. The story is a little flimsy, following convention creator Trix (Suanne Braun) as she struggles to keep a hold on a group of young fans and a convention rife with disaster. It’s predictable stuff, with an obvious Wizard of Oz twist, dialogue littered with outdated slang, and one-note characters. Initially at least, it relies on an antiquated view of geeks as awkward, socially inept weirdoes. Science-fiction and comic books are amongst the most popular forms of entertainment – it’s not all snotty teenagers and trolls starting Twitter fan wars.

Yet – as the predictable twists cement – the show is all about defying expectations. It’s about stripping back the layers of fanaticism to see the people underneath, the outsiders striving for acceptance amongst their peers. At the heart of every geek is just a passionate creative and that deserves to be celebrated. The actions of the show’s characters are frequently farcical and unbelievable, but they’re lovable people all the same.

There are moments of real spark here. “You Should See Her Fly” in the first act sees Andra (Sophie Powles) cosplaying as her favourite comic character, describing the literal flights of fancy that drew her in. Powles gives an electric performance, the song tapping into themes of heroism and identity and the lessons that comic books teach us in our personal development. This song is the heart of the show, an ode to the characters that inspire fanaticism. It’s followed by “Look What I Made”, a cute number about fan art, podcasts and more, proving the inspirational value of the genre.

The setting of a comic convention is rich, but here it’s not quite pushed far enough. The staging is, excuse the pun, conventional – more could be done to expand off the stage and draw us in. Not having the programme designed as a comic book is also a missed opportunity.

There are plenty of nods to familiar comics and sci-fi franchises in the script, however, and the music follows suit. The band may be minimal, but whirring synth melodies add futuristic flavour and composer Matt Board’s melodies are suitably catchy. You’ll be singing the theme tune to the fictional TV show all the way home.

The show eventually devolves into silliness, but the cast perform with such colourful high energy that it’s all wholeheartedly endearing. Sci-fi may seem niche, but it’s easy to be swept along by this adventure – Fanatical really is for everyone.

3/5

Watch: Fanatical runs at The Playground Theatre until 9th December.

Fanatical @ The Playground Theatre

Fanatical @ The Playground Theatre
Photos: Scott Rylander

Saturday, 10 November 2018

New Music Friday 09/11

Cheryl - Love Made Me Do It

Cheryl - Love Made Me Do It

Let's face it, Cheryl has only really had two decent hits: Fight For This Love and Call My Name, both of which paired strong pop writing with key moments in her life. The former clearly reflected her struggling relationship with footballer Ashley Cole, while for the latter she literally changed her name. Love Made Me Do It is attempting the same trick, with lyrics that look back on her love life and play with her celebrity status. "Oh my god, I'm such a sucker / I fall in love with every fucker," she notes dryly in the pre-chorus. Yet unlike her previous hits, this is not a good song. The stark, percussive production sounds like a Selena Gomez cast-off and, if this wasn't Cheryl singing, nobody would be talking about it.

Dont bother.



Ariana Grande - thank u, next

Ariana Grande - thank u, next


Cheryl isn't the only one singing about exes this week - Ariana got there first. thank u, next comes after her engagement to Pete Davidson fell through and will be the title track of her already announced next album. Note to self: don't ever make an album about a boyfriend in case it doesn't work out. Thankfully, this is an enjoyable sassy kiss-off to her past lovers, each named directly, and a lesson in self-love. Her brand of pop R&B has really developed into a solid Ariana sound, meaning this already sounds like it's been part of her back catalogue for years.

Add to playlist.



Kelly Clarkson - Never Enough


Despite being an utterly terrible film, the music of The Greatest Showman has seen ubiquitous success, perhaps because each song works both individually and as part of the narrative. That's why the forthcoming 'Reimagined' album - in which pop singers have re-recorded the songs - is likely to be such a triumph. Kelly Clarkson's Never Enough is already a highlight, a soaring ballad that could feasibly have come from any of her albums - and she sounds great.

Worth a listen.



Jonas Blue feat. Nina Nesbitt - Desperate

Jonas Blue & Nina Nesbitt - Desperate

The list of DJ and producer Jonas Blue's previous releases is a list of hits that pretty much sound the same. Now they're collected on his debut album 'Blue', from which this new track with Nina Nesbitt is taken. Nesbitt herself has been on an upward trajectory with a pop reinvention and some solid new songs, so featuring on a big dance hit certainly won't hurt her momentum. For Blue, it's likely to be another annoyingly pervasive success.

Worth a listen.



Friday, 2 November 2018

Brexit @ The Kings Head Theatre

Brexit @ The Kings Head Theatre

There have been plenty of Brexit themed plays and musicals over the past year, which is understandable when theatre is so adept at political satire. Brexit, from writers Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky, received plenty of acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and now premieres at the Kings Head Theatre.

Its beginning apes reality, though another two years in the future. A new Prime Minister, Adam Masters (Timothy Bentinck), takes the poisoned chalice of leadership in the midst of Brexit negotiations that are going nowhere. Bentinck's character is somewhat bumbling and inept, as much a pawn himself as he is playing others. Indecision is his greatest weakness, yet paradoxically his greatest strength.

That's key to a play that thrives on duality and (smoke and) mirrors. Political stalemate is here made literal with liberal use of chess metaphors - a clichéd, though certainly apt, choice. More clever is the play's structure around repeated scenes and language, like a fragmented mirror. It's reflected too in Salinsky's staging, pitting political opposition against each other for the audience's delectation.

Masters is tasked with appointing two ministers to his cabinet: for trade and for Brexit. His masterstroke is to choose ministers with vastly opposing views, Diana Purdy (Pippa Evans) and Simon Cavendish (Thom Tuck). There are no good options, only problematic ones. But who is playing who? Is Brexit really better than being part of the EU? And the Prime Minister surely wouldn't only be thinking of his own reputation in all this...would he?

Khan and Salinsky have written a tight and smart political drama, full of manipulation and intrigue to have the audience, as much as the characters, guessing until the end. Equally, it's incredibly funny. The cartoonish characters are preposterous caricatures - in particular Tuck's jingoistic Cavendish and Evans' duplicitous Purdy - and there are some wonderfully acerbic lines, catty insults shot like bullets. In their witty and biting satire on the state of the U.K., nobody is safe from Khan and Salinksy's sharp minds and poisonous pen.

Yet despite its exaggeration, Brexit feels scarily prescient. At the very least, we can all have a laugh at the political jokes and a quiet sob at the glimpse of our future. Don't be surprised if this is exactly how it plays out.

4/5

Watch: Brexit runs at the Kings Head Theatre until November 17th.

Brexit @ The Kings Head Theatre

Brexit @ The Kings Head Theatre
Photos: Steve Ullathorne

New Music Friday 02/11

Carly Rae Jepsen - Party For One

Carly Rae Jepsen - Party For One

Party For One is Carly Rae Jepsen 101: sugary synths, immediate hooks, danceable beats, relatable lyrics. The simplicity of the opening verse sets up initial vulnerability - "Tried to let it go and say I'm over you / I'm not over you...but I'm trying" - for what ultimately becomes an empowering anthem of self-love. It's fun but with a solid emotional core, which makes it perfect pop - exactly what we'd expect.

Add to playlist.



Little Mix - Joan of Arc

Little Mix - Joan of Arc

On the one hand this is a ridiculously try-hard feisty feminist anthem, with cringeworthy lyrics like "fanning myself, I'm stanning myself / I love me so much I put my hands on myself" and unsubtle nods to Beyoncé in the "I put my own rock on my hand". On the other hand, this is a ridiculously over the top feisty feminist anthem that's eminently quotable and meme-worthy. It's so bonkers it's...good?

Worth a listen.



Clean Bandit feat. Marina and the Diamonds & Luis Fonsi - Baby

Clean Bandit feat. Marina and the Diamonds & Luis Fonsi - Baby

This is another 'bonkers but it works' song. It's most notable for hailing the return of label mate Marina and the Diamonds who provides typically fluttering vocals, while the production jerks through reggaeton rhythms, Spanish guitars and throbbing synth bass in weird but wonderful fashion. It's just one feature too many - Luis Fonsi is a needless inclusion, aimed only at buttering up the Latino markets.

Worth a listen.



Maisie Peters - Feels Like This

Maisie Peters - Feels Like This

Elfin vocals and a piano might seem a little John Lewis advert, but Feels Like This has real emotional integrity. The style is melancholic but it's actually a sweet love song about, as she sings in the second verse, "the little things, I'm shivering." It's the closing track from Peters' new EP 'Dressed Too Nice For A Jacket', full of sweet folky pop.

Worth a listen.



Hailee Steinfeld - Back to Life

Hailee Steinfeld - Back to Life

Let's just ignore for a moment the fact this is taken from the soundtrack to Bumblebee, the likely-to-be-awful Transformers spin-off movie. Back to Life is a breathless slice of synth pop with a hefty beat, fun little guitar licks, radio-friendly chorus and a suitably cinematic middle eight. It's not going to win awards for originality - this sounds very '2018' - but Steinfeld is yet to really put a foot wrong. Where is that debut album?

Worth a listen.



Monday, 29 October 2018

Robyn - Honey

Robyn - Honey

The warning signs were there in the first strain of the title track:

No, you're not gonna get what you need
But baby, I have what you want
Come get your honey

This might not be the Robyn album that many of her fans wanted. But it's the Robyn album that she needed to make. It's been eight years since the release of 'Body Talk' - years spent grieving for friends and relationships - and those years are all here, in the music.

What this isn't, as many anticipated, is 'Body Talk Pt. 3', though opener Missing You does give that impression. Initially, it seems, not much has changed - Robyn is still delivering sad pop bangers, pairing melancholic lyrics with crystalline dance production. Yet it's more subtle than the song's predecessors - the way the synth pads never resolve, the way it drifts unstructured into thought, the hushed vocal delivery until that final "I miss you". That subtlety and craft foreshadows what's to come.

Musically at least, 'Honey' is less crying in the club and more contemplating at the after party. It's altogether more introspective than her previous work, stretching her bittersweet style to the logical extremes: heavier on the dance influences, yet equally more intimate. It's experimental and less rigidly structured, turning hypnotic dance beats into pensive thought rather than euphoric escapism.

The songs are presented in the order they were written. The result is an album that takes us on a journey, beginning with heartbreak and moving through grief. In this context Missing You makes sense - it's not just a song about longing for a lover or a friend, it's a nod to the past Robyn before moving into newer territory. "I'm a human being," she almost pleads on Human Being over sparse robotic beats and glitching rhythms, as if breaking out of her past self.

Because It's In The Music is Robyn at her most sweet yet melancholic, her lyrics of reminiscence ("I'm right back in that moment and it makes me want to cry") layered over production that glitters and shimmers like the stardust she sings of. It's followed by Baby Forgive Me, with similar disco under-pinning and a warped vocal counter-melody that almost mocks her pleading, the harmony shifting in the second chorus as her pleas become more desperate ("Just let me make you smile again, baby"). It bleeds into Send To Robin Immediately like a stream of consciousness - an introspective, largely instrumental track that sees Robyn (and us along with her) lost in thought.

By the time we get to the title track, its sensuality feels familiar like a warm bath. It's here that Robyn begins to find herself again after her experiences of loss, find herself in the playfulness of music. From there it's a rising swell of positivity - through 90s house - towards closing track Ever Again. Here the album ends on a moment of pure euphoria, the production blown widescreen (under the production helm of Metronomy's Joseph Mount) as we're simultaneously grounded in the club and soaring to the stars. "Never gonna be brokenhearted ever again," she sings with unbridled freedom and joy.

'Honey', then, is an album of crisis and self-discovery, of loss and comfort and a brighter future, as downbeat as it is upbeat. It is frequently beautiful, daring and bold - both in its experimental construction and its subverting of our expectations. It is also meticulously crafted, with too many tiny details and moments to list individually.

But it's not without its flaws. Beyond the initial disappointment at the lack of consistent pop bangers - or perhaps because of that lack - the dance influences cause some tracks to feel too drawn out. Between The Lines and Beach2k20 in particular border on 90s pastiche, the hypnotic beats drifting into monotony. And while there's depth to the production and the songwriting (often what's unsaid allows us space to ponder), the album probably won't be played on repeat for years to come, but instead saved for certain moments of reflection.

In that sense, 'Honey' was perhaps more cathartic for Robyn to write than enjoyable for us to listen to - the album she needed, but not that we necessarily wanted. This is her 'Honey'. Whether it's yours is up to you.

5/5

Gizzle's Choice:
* Missing You
* Honey
* Ever Again

Listen: 'Honey' is out now.