When Robyn had a hit with "Show Me Love" in 1997, she was marketed as the Swedish Britney Spears. But the teen sensation, born Robin Miriam Carlsson in 1979, soured on the music industry's attempts to manage her image and make her a full-fledged star in America, and she eventually extricated herself from her contract and regrouped.
She started her own record company, began collaborating with members of fellow Swedish bands the Knife and Teddybears, and fashioned an album full of terse, electro-flavored dance pop that recalls early Madonna, Norway's Annie, Missy Elliott and even the best of pre-train-wreck Britney.
That album, Robyn, released in Sweden in 2005, became a deserved word-of-mouth (and blog) cult hit over here. Updated with a few new tracks and remixes, it's finally seeing official American release on Tuesday, and Robyn comes to the TLA the following night on her first U.S. tour.
So what took so long for it to be released here?
"When you have your own record company, everything takes more time," says Robyn via e-mail from the U.K., where she was doing a few shows. "When [I] released the album in Sweden, I had gotten rid of the idea of having an international career again, and so I mainly focused on Sweden. When [American] music sites, like Pitchfork, for example, started to write about the album, it gave me the courage to believe that there was still an audience out there for me."
That songs like the string-driven "Be Mine" and the synth-popping "Who's That Girl" sound fresh and immediate today suggests either that they were ahead of their time in 2005 or that they are timeless pop confections. Or maybe both.
"Although it wasn't something I had in my calculation, the album totally makes sense for America," she writes. "And coming back there after almost exactly 10 years, on my own terms, feels great!"