Robyn: "Konichiwa Bitches"

from Robyn (Konichiwa Records; 2005)

By Mark Abraham | 19 January 2006

A guttural synth line is soldered to an 8-bit processor with single hits on kick and snare that alternate like Arkanoid (every second kick stutters early). Sounds like sonic Pong, I know, but the vacant space allows MIDI noises to bubble bobble their way through a slowly building barrage accented by 16th-note high hat flourishes, four-kick crescendos, and ringing pulses (power-up!) that flow off the one. These are synthesized sounds in the worst sense, sure, but you better listen; if not, Robyn will “saw you in half, like [she’s] a magician.” Channeling (but certainly not equaling) Missy, she half-raps her way through the deluge: “Coming with the postman like I’m a mailbomb / Comin’ in your mouth makes you say yum-yum.”

Missy gets due props for her beats, but I wonder sometimes if it’s her overt sexuality that causes our mostly male (and white, and heterosexual) indie world to fall gibbering to its knees to gush and fawn, scrawling fanboy ramblings and “Indie + Missy = TLF” (outlined in hearts) on the corners of its school books. I hate to break it this way, but your wet dreams are going to have to hold you over; her sexuality certainly isn’t about pleasuring you. Since Robyn is a Misdemeanor disciple in more ways than one, it’s nice to know she’s in on the joke. Her tact is different; she thinks “you is a punk”; she’ll make your “balls bounce like a game of Ping Pong.” Ouch.

The track gobbles up the most rudimentary of parts and refashions them as a thick, pulsing backdrop for Robyn’s exercise in backhanded self-promotion, showing exactly why she’s “so very hot,” but not for any of the reasons that she actually presents. The secret’s in the details: the hilarious way Robyn echoes her own “magician” in the first verse; the way, in the penultimate verse, she “forgets” her lyrics and must get cued; the nonsense words; and the way you find yourself mouthing a title that doesn’t make a lick of sense.