I go dancing when I’m sad, and so does Robyn. From “Show Me Love” to “Dancing on My Own,” “Be Mine!” to “Call Your Girlfriend,” a central part of the Swedish pop powerhouse’s appeal lies in her ability to work out life’s loneliest moments through flailing limbs and shaking hips. It’s innate, the way she can turn her blues into redemptive gold under the dancefloor lights. But for nearly all of this decade, Robyn has prioritized collaborative mini-albums that, rather than collecting her signature moves into perfect nuggets, instead showed off her musical versatility and ability to playfully riff. Now, eight years since Body Talk cemented her cult legend, Robyn has released a song so fundamentally her, it almost makes you forget how long she left us wanting more.
Maybe that’s because “Missing U” intimately knows that feeling. Co-produced and co-written with Robyn’s longtime collaborator Klas Åhlund and Metronomy’s Joseph Mount, the song could be directed at a lover who left, if that’s what listeners need to hear, but its respectful gravity—“all the love you gave still defines me,” she sings—suggests it is about someone who has disappeared not by choice. In a recent live interview, Robyn spoke poignantly about the loss of her friend and collaborator Christian Falk, whose work she carried through with the posthumous release of their EP as La Bagatelle Magique (along with Markus Jägerstedt), 2015’s Love Is Free. “Missing U” is, by Robyn’s own estimation, “a little bit of a message to [her] fans,” but it’s undeniable that the hurt that permeates this quietly masterful song is one that is quite real to her.
The sensation of being left spinning punctuates key moments, as a synthesizer whirls like a merry-go-round through Robyn’s memories. This detail, the matching of the individual noises to the hard-felt sentiments, is where the magic of “Missing U” is made. At the very end, the kick drum drops out and all that’s left is the swirling sound. But by that point Robyn has found her emotional sea legs, just like she always does.
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