Arts & Entertainment, The Muse

Still an Anniemal

It was, perhaps, Annie who single handedly brought a whole new meaning to crying on the dance floor.’

It was 2004 when the Norwegian electro-pop singer made her debut on the music scene with her debut album, Anniemal, which featured the gripping track ‘Heartbeat.’

It was a song so raw and jubilant that you hardly would have suspected that Annie Lilia Berge Strand was actually singing about her boyfriend who had passed away from heart failure just a few years earlier.

The rest of Annie’s history is rehashed journalism fodder. Blender (R.I.P.) called her the ‘Kylie Minogue hipsters don’t have to feel guilty about liking’ while Rolling Stone proclaimed ‘Goodbye, Britney. Hello, Annie,’ in its review of her debut.

Considering five years have passed and her audience is still not much larger than her petite Scandinavian frame, we’re going to have to call Rolling Stone’s bluff on that one.

But if any concrete conclusions can be drawn from Annie’s much-delayed sophomore effort, Don’t Stop, is that the girl knows pop music. She knows big, glittery, pop music. It’s futuristic, but retro. It’s weird as hell, but strangely familiar. It’s mindless, but pulls at your heartstrings. It’s everything pop should be.

The album opens up with ‘Hey Annie,’ which escalates from a simple drum loop, whistle and some handclaps to an electro-clusterf-ck. The track is one of three on the album from uber-producer Paul Epworth, the man responsible for some of Bloc Party and The Rapture’s best offerings.

Other highlights include the call-and-response ‘My Love Is Better’ and the downright ridiculous ‘The Breakfast Song.’ The former, which features Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos on guitar, is a rousing indie-pop moment that lets Annie’s usual whispery voice pipe up to prove her worth. ‘Breakfast’ on the other hand deals with relationship frustrations via the expectations of the woman in the kitchen. Who knew bacon and eggs could be so angsty ‘-‘- and catchy?

Annie also takes a moment to dismiss her man’s musical style on ‘I Don’t Like Your Band.’ Over a disco-infused beat, she taunts, ‘Your latest 7-inch sounds obscene unless you spin it at 45.’

The album’s highlight, however, comes in the form of ‘Songs Remind Me Of You.’ It’s the ‘Heartbeat’ of Don’t Stop, a blistering anthem laced with lyrics of heartbreak. ‘Oh, the song I hear reminds me of you / does it make you feel you feel the same as I do?’ the singer laments. It’s a rare moment in popular music that is so equally euphoric and melancholy that it makes you feel like you’re being punched in the face with a bag full of glitter.

And for managing to articulate that feeling, we’re going to stop here. But Annie, please, don’t.

Don’t Stop is released November 17 via Smalltown Supersound Records.

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