That’s the unequivocal take-home from Robyn & La Bagatelle Magique‘s first mini-album. It’s in the chorus of Set Me Free, it’s in the whole concept (and, er, title) of Love Is Free, and it’s in the freedom that the soul of the late Christian Falk seems to enjoy on this posthumous project curated lovingly by dear friends.
It’s also in the deliberate subversion of what freedom might be. The sleeve might look horrendously cramped together, but the joy pouring out of that confection is palatable. The fact that this is only a five-track ‘mini-album’ may feel like a deliberate restriction, but it allows its creators full licence to do whatever they like. Although, really, the short length shouldn’t be an alarm given we already know how much Robyn can do with this sort of collaborative short-form medium.
Markus Jägerstedt’s inclusion also adds a more frenetic dimension, as opposed to say the airier string-laden side we saw of Falk & Robyn on Dream On. That’s why the title track sounds like such a euphoric romp – with help from Maluca, Robyn lays it down with “I’ma give it to you baby” for an utter dancefloor hit that feels perfectly content in its own liberation and resolute aversion to form. Their arms are up in the air and they don’t give a shit, and it’s hard not to fuck it all and join them.
Elsewhere, Set Me Free fills more of a traditional structure, but it sets those vocals on synths that seem like wings, lifting Robyn’s voice to the stratosphere. Like the 90s dance hits we all loved back on Galaxy FM (RIP), it’s one of those songs that make you feel like you can do anything even before you’ve double-dropped. And for fans of the Swedish star’s usual brand of sadface-dance, Lose Control contains quintessentially Robyn-esque lines such as “tell me all about your mistakes/ tell me about the love and the pain/ I know somebody hurt you some way” (not to mention knowing her audience full well on Got To Work It Out by singing “Make a fist and pump it like this / make a big scene throw a fit / make it fit, fit, work with it” – achem, quite).
That segue from a more morose beginning to relentlessly upbeat dance-pop is a decent parallel for what Robyn and her crew (including her protegée Zhala) seem to be about these days. This is about leaving the heartbreak of the past behind, leaving the grief of losing a talent like Christian Falk, and embracing a celebration of both the present, and most importantly, that ever-so-relevant notion of freedom in the modern world.
Love Is Free by Robyn & La Bagatelle Magique can be ordered here.