Release Date: Nov 17, 2009
Record label: Smalltown Supersound
Genre(s): Rock, Pop
This is the story of the record that waited. In limbo since [a]Annie[/a]’s split with Island Records last November, [b]‘Don’t Stop’[/b] has been hanging around in various forms for almost a year. The lead single has been switched more times than a Sugababes member (it currently rests at [b]‘Songs Remind Me Of You’[/b]) and the tracklisting has been mercurial (a version of [b]‘Two Of Hearts’[/b] has been lost – moment of silence please).
In 2004, the Norwegian singer Annie released a single called Heartbeat. Equal parts excitement, anticipation and melancholy, it suggested the birth of a bright new talent, a suggestion confirmed by its parent album, Anniemal. Five years on, we finally get the second album – in which time Annie's sophisticated synthpop tricks have been copied by a generation of female artists and passed into the pop mainstream.
Norwegian dance-floor queen Annie has a rare talent for making dance records that appeal to both your hips and your head. Her second album is a savvy mix of energetic early-’80s synth-pop and indie electronic — she’s as close to LCD Soundsystem as to Kylie Minogue. Her vocals switch ? between seen-it-all sass and breathy melancholy with convincing ease.
Annie's second album, Don't Stop, was supposed to come out last year, and for the Norwegian singer's net-savvy audience, it basically did. The version of the record that is being commercially released now is a bit different from what leaked in 2008-- a few tracks have been cut, a few more have been added-- but since it is being released with a bonus disc that includes every notable excluded track save for her cover of Stacey Q's "Two of Hearts", the final product is less glass-half-empty and more cup-runneth-over. Her final running order for the album proper is certainly an artistic statement worth taking seriously, but we all know that our experience with this music has been and will continue to be a flexible thing, so why should the boundaries of plastic discs matter so much for an artist so closely associated with mp3s? Even if CD releases and official track listings are formal considerations that are not entirely significant to Annie's context as a star in a largely theoretical Internet pop universe, it's almost impossible to engage with any version of Don't Stop without thinking about what is "missing.
Half formula, half adventure “Do you want more, baby, do you want more?” These are the first words Annie purrs on her sophomore album, a come-on that would fit snugly on a Britney Spears anthology. It may seem befuddling how this Norwegian singer gets the indie oligarchy’s sacred seal of approval while other remarkably similar pop acts don’t. But listening to the rest of Don’t Stop, it becomes clear that Annie is more adventurous than her peers.
The line between the underground and the mainstream is at times so paper thin that you can live in one whilst being clearly designed and ready for the other. Annie is one of underground music’s refugees, in that she has always seemed to belong with the glamorous elite. She is independent enough that nothing comes across as being over-styled, contrived or dictated, but at the same time she seems like a purist, thus avoiding being part of any horrible irony-heavy hipster appropriation of pop (beloved as she may be by irony-heavy hipsters).
Originally scheduled for a 2007 release, Annie’s follow-up to 2004’s Annimal finally hits shelves and desktops in late 2009. The period in between saw the nearly inevitable leak of an album that resembles, but is ultimately inferior to, the finished product. After all the delays, the wait was worth it: Don’t Stop exudes polish, depth, and the sense that Annie is moving confidently forward as a pop artist of the first order.
Annie ran into some obstructions on the way to the release of her second album. Don't Stop was supposed to come out on Island well over a year before it was finally issued on Norway’s Smalltown Supersound; Island had gone as far as releasing "I Know UR Girlfriend Hates Me" as a single and video, as well as a cover of Stacey Q’s "Two of Hearts" as a promotional single, but Annie and Island split, and Don’t Stop finally surfaced with a different track list that included neither "Girlfriend" nor "Hearts. " As on Anniemal, Don't Stop contains some of the catchiest, most clever dance-pop in circulation, highlighted by the fizzy "I Don't Like Your Band," one of three songs produced by Paul Epworth (Bloc Party, Florence and the Machine).
With the 2004 release of Anniemal, Norweigan pop artist Annie combusted the conversation about pop music versus indie music, about irony versus authenticity. People again began to make seemingly obvious comments about how it's OK to enjoy pop music in a heartfelt way. Anniemal was relevant. But without tackling such a pervasive cultural question, Annie’s second album, Don’t Stop, is not.