4. Robyn, Honey (Konichiwa)
In the eight years between her last two albums, pop music felt empty without Robyn. Her metamorphosis from teenaged Max Martin-produced pop star to trend-setting auteur is the stuff of legend, and you’d be hard pressed to find another artist who equals her in terms of vision. She has always been ahead of the curve, and she proves that fact yet again on the long, long-awaited follow-up to 2010’s Body Talk. One of Robyn’s great strengths as a singer and songwriter is how she can make music that feels exultant and devastating at the same time, and nowhere is that balance more evident and perfect on the shimmering “Missing U”. There’s great sadness in her lyrics, but a semblance of happy reminiscence as well: “Your scent on my pillow’s faded / At least you left me with something.” The wistful “Because it’s in the Music” expertly depicts the power of recorded music, while the pulsating “Between the Lines” is a modern interpretation of house music. The album has its truly daring moments, too. “Baby Forgive Me” and “Send to Robyn Immediately” explore more ambient territory as she herself expresses great grief and the desire for some sort of reconciliation. However, things take a turn towards the more transcendent on “Honey”, easily the most sensual song Robyn has ever written, and perhaps the most personal, because when you hear her sweetly sing those lines, you feel they’re coming from a place far deeper than mere storytelling. After running the full gamut of emotions, the gentle synthpop of “Ever Again” closes the record with a little resolution as Robyn promises to never let heartbreak bother this much in the future. We certainly hope so, but one can’t help feel that Robyn’s perfect bittersweet quality will never disappear. She remains one of only a few true geniuses in pop music, and Honey is a powerful return.