Once upon a time, around the start of this century, there was a young Norwegian lady named Annie who came to a few people’s attention when she released the Madonna-sampling single The Greatest Hit. It was deemed slightly genius and Annie was duly crowned as one of the stars of what was eventually-named-as the ‘noughties’.
Then things went a bit quiet – until 2005, that is, when her first album proper Anniemal was released, bugled by the extremely magnificent lead-off single Chewing Gum. After bothering the lower reaches of the charts, Annie then signed up with Island to become an actual proper pop star. But alas this was not to be, due to the label dropping her before she released her second album in October 2008. Finally, that album emerges, with a few changes in the tracklisting. During the interim, however, women playing keyboards and being a bit pop have spread across the charts, and now Annie is in the unfortunate position of being regarded as an afterthought, rather than a righteous torch bearer.
Standout track My Love Is Better is a Xenomania belter, with guest guitar action from Alex Kapranos. An earlier version featured Girls Aloud on backing vocals, but was halted by the band’s management, possibly in fear of it eclipsing their own abilities. Songs Remind Me of You is another monster, a blinding snort-up of amyl disco strobe-fest proportions, which throws in a bit of Mel & Kim just in case it wasn’t quite rapturous enough. The dramatic Saint Etienne-ness of Marie Cherie allows for breath to be caught up with; I Don’t Like Your Band is a honest summation for anyone in love with a musician; and The Breakfast Song is just plain bonkers.
With assorted production credits for Paul Epworth, Richard X and Xenomania, a more ‘of its time’ record would be hard to find, but no matter: Don’t Stop is 12 slices of sublime pop genius, and one ranks right up there with the best contemporary female pop. Here’s hoping more than a dozen people buy the thing. --Ian Wade
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