If the theory that history repeats itself can be applied to a person’s taste in music, it’s no real surprise that I love Anniemal so much. My eighth grade year was fraught with a lack of aesthetic sonic cohesion, which led me to listen to everything until I found my musical identity. I’m only half ashamed to admit that I listened to the Top 40 Countdown every Sunday night, because while I was forced to choke down weeks and weeks of nonsense like UB40’s version of “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” I also got to know the ins and outs of Sweden’s Ace of Base. The group was the only contemporary pop outfit who, I felt, knew what they were doing. They won me over despite my mounting acquiescence to grunge and metal. Cut to eleven years into the future, and I’ve completely lost faith in radio pop music — rock too, for that matter — thanks to the likes of Britney Spears, X-tina, Pink, etc. The only saving grace so far in the aughts’ pop milieu came courtesy of Britney in the form of “Toxic,” a song playing so much against type, it succeeds because it sounds nothing like her.
Enter Norwegian DJ Annie, a one-woman band who latched onto every single aspect of “Toxic” and extrapolated them into an amazing album. The most direct cop comes three tracks into the disc with “Always Too Late,” which features rolling timpani, an orchestra of plucked spy movie strings with a theremin hovering on the periphery. Thankfully, Annie doesn’t use the blueprint of this song as rigid confines to work within, but as a stepping stone to a broad palette smear of dance genres and sounds. “Heartbeat” uses live drums and electronic percussion to simulate the rapid pulse of its title. “No Easy Love” is bedroom funk with a burbling robotic voice beatboxing in the background. “Come Together” is a seven-minute epic that’s brave enough to kill the beat for extended periods of time before resurrecting it again at an even stronger rate.
Undoubtedly, when putting this album together, Annie’s best decision was forgoing the inclusion of requisite buzz-killing ballads. The beat runs rampant, hedonistic and headlong through every track on the disc. Anniemal is dedicated to the night out, to the dancefloor; it has no time to wallow in pathos, regret and self-reflection. It might be a wise stance to take where programming singles for commercial radio is concerned, but the clubs where this album will excel has little interest in garbage like that anymore. Perhaps they did when that other Scandinavian pop group was in vogue, and if anyone’s produced an album strong enough to lead the aughts’ pop revolution it’s Annie.
679 Recordings: www.679recordings.com