Review: Annie – Don’t Stop (Smalltown Supersound)

Norwegian electro-pop star Annie has a new album out this week. Eh. Read why here or below.

Annie’s new effort, Don’t Stop, is an album that you might want to like more than you actually do. The Norwegian songstress became something of an indie-electro-pop sensation [and semi-official Pitchfork pet rock – Ed.] on the strength of her debut, Anniemal, a charmer built upon hooky production filled with recognizable nods to the ‘80s. Don’t Stop, while employing a few nifty bells and whistles (like Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos playing guitar on the track “My Love is Better”), suffers from a lack of energy and innovation.

Annie’s hushed vocals sound best over a bouncing beat, as they lack the strength to shine on their own. That wasn’t a problem in the past on songs like “Heartbeat” and “Chewing Gum,” but tracks like the guitar-driven “Bad Times” don’t do her justice, fading into the nebulous ether of mediocre pop. The title track, on the other hand, is a perky bubble-tech vision of dance-floor bliss, Annie singing down a chromatic scale about kisses before hitting it off with a catchy chorus. “I Don’t Like Your Band” is another success, based on the strength of Paul Epworth-produced electro beat.

There are more introspective moments peppered throughout, such as “Marie Cherie,” a softly focused track that, according to the press release, is about an abused girl who commits suicide. Serious subject matter aside, these subdued interludes don’t hold a candle to the percussive tech-house of a track like “Songs Remind Me of You.” But again, you have to give credit where credit is due – it’s the production that elevates Annie’s relatively weak vocals. But hey, if Madonna could do it, why can’t Annie?

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