Don’t Stop | Island
By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  September 16, 2008
2.5 2.5 Stars
The underground success of Norwegian pixie Annie’s Anniemal in 2004 represented a tectonic shift in indie sensibilities: the beguiling charm of “Heartbeat” and “Chewing Gum” forced indie fans to admit that straight-up diva pop can rule, on occasion, if done right, with the right production, if the right people like it first, etc. The ensuing years didn’t exactly see Annie frenching Kylie and Britney at the VMAs or writing songs for the Pussycat Dolls. Which is probably why her sophomore outing is more eagerly awaited by Pitchfork readers than, say, the new Xtina or Lady GaGa. Of course, she’s also more adept at balancing bratty tweener kiss-off ’tude with dance-friendly bliss — meaning that someone over 16 can listen to her music without wincing. The hopes for Don’t Stop are justified: this is a record to blast proudly from front to back, from the brag anthem “My Love Is Better” to the rave-tastic “Songs Remind Me of You.” Annie’s vocals are not of the sassy take-charge variety; she’s either cooing/whispering angelically (as on the oddly “Kokomo”-ish “Heaven and Hell”) or singing in a vaguely flat style that recalls the girl-next-door shrugs of Bananarama (especially on “Loco” and the “G-L-O-R-I-A”-derivative “Sweet”). Where Anniemal sounded slick yet charmingly amateurish, Don’t Stop is varied and lush, with guitars poking through the mix when appropriate without taking away from the synth-heavy bounce of the overall sound.
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