To those of you out there who think that Australian Pop begins and ends with Kylie Minogue... you're in for a shock. Meet Robyn Loau - Evil Kylie. What else can I tell you about her? I guess you could mention her first album Malaria: The Lost Album scored 4 stars from Rolling Stone magazine and featured the cult hit "Sick With Love" (produced by Adamski) and she was the face and voice of world music project Siva Pacifica. Ummm... she's also the Australian raised daughter of a Samoan village chief. Anyway, let's get to the music.
The break-up album, as much a staple of the music industry as the Christmas Album, albeit much less annoying. From Adele's 21, to P!nk's Funhouse, and Alanis Morrisette's debut Jagged Little Pill, comes this new addition - Robyn Loau's Only Human. This star-studded set comes with credits that are a virtual roll-call of indie legends, including Skin from Skunk Anansie, Nikka Costa, dance music pioneers Josh Abrahams and Davide Carbone, Cameron McGlinchey of Rouge Traders, Adamski and members of acclaimed Australian hip hop group the Resin Dogs. Her vocal brilliance shines through on the powerful title track "Only Human" and her reinvention of the Kate Bush masterpiece "Wuthering Heights". Lyrically, Robyn is not scared to take you places most pop artists would fear to tread, eg. with the song "Hard" exploring gun control and schoolyard bullying from the Columbine killers point of view. Sonically, the album takes you on a roller-coaster ride of styles and sounds and is an addictive concoction of rock, pop, dance and soul.
This is the album Madonna wishes MDNA was. The break-up album you listen to as you torch your ex-lover's car. With her fierce attitude and vocal skills, it's only a matter of time before Robyn Loau claws her way onto your playlist.
I surrender (Physical CD only)
A slow-burning, hypnotic song penned by Adamski (Seal). "I surrender to your love, every night, and every day".
Never let you down
Never let you down is an anthem for women wronged. It's very P!nk, and it's very catchy. Robyn co-wrote this track with Cameron McGlinchey of the Rouge Traders.
This is the sexiest and catchiest song on the set. Simple as that. Written and Produced by Josh Abrahams (Puretone).
Robyn takes on the Kate Bush classic and wins. The track was produced by The Future Sounds of Melbourne.
The theme of "She Devil" is one that is repeated a number of times on the album. I wouldn't want to be the girl that she is singing about, I'll say that much. Originally written for a male artist, Robyn retains the references to "she devil, stole my heart, she devil, tore my world apart". At a time when most gay artists fear sounding gay, here is a straight woman singing about Lesbian love loud and proud.
When Robyn got sent the demo instrumental track, she was asked to write as song about a "hard hip-hop diva". Instead she wrote about the Columbine massacre. This is that song. Unlike Kelly Rowland's "Stole", this is done from the perspective of the killers. A song with hard truths about bullies, it is breakbeat pop that is almost as delicious as her debut single "Sick with Love".
Imagine if Prince got an orchestra, and decided to make breakbeat pop with a slight burlesque twist. This is that track. Robyn growls like Suzie Quatro, purrs like Mae West, and wails like Prince on this one. And there's even some vocal gymnastics thrown in at the end. God, I hope no American Idol contestant tries to take this one on.
Everyone's got to learn sometime
The second of two covers on the album. Sung almost as a lullaby, this is a nostalgic song of love lost.
Piggy Bank Boy
Another very P!nk track. Robyn takes on a Tarantino-esque personality while she tears her ex a new one.
This is the third and final collaboration with Cameron. Rebound i's more of an album track than a stand out single, that said it has the best lyrics, "I'm the last one at the party dealing with the mess... the cocktail that I bought you is now running down my arm". And with the rocking guitar riffs, I think this would sound much better live.
The Last Time
A heart-wrenching ballad about domestic violence written by Nikka Costa, and performed with such conviction by Robyn Loau. I dare you to listen to this song dry eyed. I dare you.
Home is the album's most beautiful song, and pretender to the homesickness crown currently held by Peter Allen's "I still call Australia home". It has a very Crowded House feel to the track, and believe it or not, was written by Skin from Skunk Anansie.
What do you get when you cross hip-hop with folk, gospel, and some 1930s dixieland jazz in there for good measure? You get this very experimental closer to an album by a Pop Diva that likes to take the road less traveled.
Only Human is out now on iTunes and Amazon.
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