Friday, September 17th, 2010

Robyn – Hang with Me

Because no Macbook owner could ever be accused of smugness…


Chuck Eddy: Upstaged by a synthesizer line, yet again. How does she live with herself? Just kidding, people! Actually, I like how “hang” here has 14 meanings.

Alfred Soto: The sequencers make a lovely cascade, but Robyn screws it up, as usual. “With Every Heartbeat” excepted, her wobbly pipes can’t project weakness. She’s much better at aerobicized show-me-loves.

Martin Skidmore: I like this a lot: the lyrics are almost entirely those of a positive song of friendship, but her tone has a sadness and aggression that complicates it in fascinating ways, inserting a level of irresistible cynicism about the outcome.

Iain Mew: Sitting in the middle of Robyn’s gradual unveiling of Body Talk has done this song no favours. Having heard it unadorned on Part 1, the clunkiness of the lyrics and performance fully on show, it’s difficult not to still concentrate on those issues, even when they’re hidden a bit by the superior synthpop. Meanwhile, “Indestructible” is so great even in acoustic form that I’ve already moved on to looking forward to the real thing on Part 3.

Alex Ostroff: The single release of “Hang With Me” ditches the tentative vocals and intricate string lines of Pt. 1‘s acoustic version for thundering basslines and soaring choruses. The new arrangement doesn’t communicate Robyn’s uncertainty or nervousness nearly as well as the original, but it remains one of the highlights of the Body Talk project. The arpeggiated synths from “Dancing on My Own” have yet to lose their touch, and the chorus’ contrast between the sharply punctuated “Don’t. Fall.” and the elided “recklesslyheadlessly” is a blissful moment of pop catharsis. If Pt. 3 has less thinly-produced quirk, and more of this desperately emotive electropop, Robyn just might manage to battle her way back into the Top 40.

Martin Kavka: For some reason, it’s only now that the tempo’s been sped up that I realize that this is a friends-with-benefits-anthem (“I know what’s on your mind/there’ll be time for that too”). The song deserves the sweat that this version provides, as opposed to the mopey acoustic version on Body Talk Pt. 1.

Katherine St Asaph: Compared to her first Body Talk singles, “Hang With Me” almost seems like a misstep. It’s in the same basic mold of “Dancing on my Own”, but without the destroy-everything-in-its-path heft. It’s cheery enough, but it doesn’t quite tap the (totally unforced!) ebullience of “Fembot”. Or so it seems until you get to the chorus; “Don’t! fall!” sings Robyn, drums and whooshes fast on her heels. The melody clearly wants to fall recklessly, headlessly all over itself, especially when Robyn double-dots it later on with two or three vocal tracks. Even when things settle back into the lower part of the staff, she’s all pent-up energy. This is all Robyn’s doing — listen to the original if you don’t believe me. You just can’t say she’s vocally ineffective. Your objection is either one of timbre — which is unfair — or of song styling, but Robyn doesn’t perform this song casual, because she isn’t supposed to. Of course Robyn wants the guy to fall recklessly, headlessly in love; where else would all the joy come from? She sings “do me right” and “keep it tight” like breathless vows and “hang with me” like the most heartfelt thing in the world.

Mallory O’Donnell: Robyn’s descent (more a return, technically) into the land of total mediocrity continues, complete this time with some profoundly poor use of the vernacular. If tracks this anemic have become acceptable as singles, it’s no wonder she’s able to churn out three whole albums this year.

Mark Sinker: The beat feels like you’re inside a tightened chest cavity, pressed up against a palpitating heart. Plus there’s a vocal effect about two minutes in (a robotised percussive tremor on a held note) that combines with her snatched breaths and never very delivered voice to remind you of the no-fun mid-stages of an asthma attack. It gives the song an adrenalised, panicky, suffocating urgency that may or may not suit the words — maybe it depends if you think the singer just landed her object of passionate interest, or is right this second losing them and trying anything, one last terrified time.

Renato Pagnani: An example of what a different context can do — while the original was tentative, unsure of its footing, this one has taken a leap of faith and is all poise and self-assurance. Robyn’s lyrics about a prospective lover haven’t changed — they still retain all the cautious qualifiers of the acoustic version, “ifs” aplenty — but this time when Robyn sings “Will you tell me once again how we’re gonna be just friends?” she knows damn well that there’s no chance of that happening. “Hang With Me” is a classic example of saying one thing and meaning another, a wink acknowledging collapsed possibilities of heartbreak. It’s the inverse of “Dancing on My Own,” an instance where Robyn actually gets the boy. Extra points for the way she treats “I know what’s on your mind — there’ll be time for that, too” as a complete toss-off. Of course Robyn is gonna fuck you, but she’ll also give you much more.

John Seroff: The Jukebox critical kerfuffle over Robyn as queen of the dancefloor vs. shrill copycat with a good publicist overlooks a middle ground that I’ve been holding for a minute now: much of what she does is mediocre and much of what she does is stand up spectacular. I know the either/or dialectic is one Robyn encourages with her babydoll brashness, but sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes a pop song is just a pop song. “Hang With Me” is just a pop song; a bit too understated and pretty for my taste, but nuanced enough to merit a fourth and fifth listen.

Additional Scores

Anthony Easton: [9]

One Response to “Robyn – Hang with Me”

  1. Mallory, are you kidding? The Body Talk series is genius. Mediocrity? Fembot, Dancing On My Own, Don’t Fucking Tell Me What to Do, this one, U Should Know Better, Indescructible? If anything, she’s outdone Robyn (the 2005 album), which was utterly brilliant to begin with.