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?