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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 9 November 2004
This album is a masterpiece! Featuring production from Richard X on "Chewing Gum" and "Me Plus One", the album "Anniemal" is a great collection of uplifting pop pleasures, dance grooves and disco funks. Along with the Richard X tracks, highlight tracks include "Always Too Late", "My Heartbeat", "Helpless Fool For Love" and "Greatest Hit" (featuring a sample of "Everybody" by Madonna) among many others. Get it!
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VINE VOICEon 23 March 2005
Imagine a very strange pop cocktail: start with a large shot of new millennium Kylie, add a dose of Rachel Stevens at her best and finally fill up the glass with that fizzy quirkiness that, more than often than one might expect, has made the Scandinavian countries legendary for producing more good music than their small populations might suggest reasonable. If you can you might just have some idea of what to expect from 'Anniemal'.
Annie is from Norway and this is her debut effort but you would never guess. Neither conservative nor self consciously weird in style or content - it is very listenable from the start and only gets better with repeated listening. That it is a more than competent debut is a fact; what slowly dawns is that it is a stunningly confident one. It combines a mixture of electronica with pure pop, touches of R 'n' B and rock, plus a noticeable dance sensibility in a way that is somehow quite lacking in self-consciousness, let alone any pretension. It is one of those rare albums that give the impression of being created rather than planned perhaps helped by the fact that she co-wrote and produce the majority of the tracks
It starts with 'Intro', which has Annie talking over a variety of bleeps and electronic anniemal noises. This is followed by the Richard X produced 'Chewing Gum' along with the quite different sounding 'Me Plus One'. As he produced Rachel Steven's 'Some Girls' the connection is certainly there.
Another outstanding track is 'Heartbeat' again co-written and produced by Annie. Many a well-established artist would kill for a track like this, while on the other hand the rather happy dance influenced 'Greatest Hit' (As someone suggested to me this is slightly reminiscent of Faithless tracks featuring Dido, but on Prozac!) samples 'Everybody' by Madonna, who is undoubtedly a big influence on Annie's music.
The title track 'Anniemal' seems to me to be a very subtle parody of Abba. The opening lines, " She's a locked up girl, in a RICH MAN'S WORLD" - 'Money, Money, Money' (!) and it goes on, but it is far too clever to ever be crass.
It is very hard to find a filler track on this album, or indeed even a predictable one. It really is that good. If you like pop with a difference then this is worth a listen. Why only 4 stars then? - Well someone this talented has potential to do even better and the scale runs out at five...
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on 13 July 2005
if you usually stay away from mainstream pop radio, but thought 'toxic' was a really good track, you should check out annie.
I came across annie by accident: around midnight one night in barcelona, I stumbled across some friends who were going to a club called razzmatazz, and they asked if I wanted to tag along. I went, got tired of the giant main dance floor, and started wandering around. I found a room called the 'pop bar' or something, and on the small stage, with not much attention being paid to her by the jaded barcelona hipster kids, was a demurely-clad norwegian blonde singing understated pop songs without any flashy lights, choreography, costume changes, or anything else you might associate with a pop princess. she said her name was annie, and when a few weeks later I saw anniemal on a record store shelf, I didn't think twice about buying it.
you shouldn't either. all the songs not only hold up to scrutiny and can hold their own as legitimate pop, they're also actually really good. 'always too late' does destiny's child better than destiny's child, and also improves on their lyricism quite a bit. the backing beat isn't cookie-cutter r&b either: it has the quality of being both sparse and lush at the same time, much like annie's voice. she leaves out all that vocal melisma that plagues most pop (see 'pop idol') and just sticks to the melody, making sure to drip loads of dreamy sensuality over every line.
'me plus one' is perhaps the best pop track on the album, narrowly beating 'chewing gum'. both are pure roller-disco-and-bubblegum pop pleasure without feeling eager or dated. 'greatest hit' is so understated and cool, it should win some sort of trophy that has a disco ball on the top. and of course there's 'come together', the nearly-8-minute disco-dance extravaganza, which could bring a dancefloor with the population of south america to its knees. and the best track is 'my heartbeat', which is the most emotional, lush, and musically interesting track on the album.
so if you doubt the power of pop music, it's probably because of what gets passed off as pop music these days. listen to annie and you'll realise that pop isn't some genre made specifically to piss off stuffy 16 year-old guitar players. there's power in the ability to get people to dance, and annie uses this power with great responsibility. she's like the spiderman of pop.
also, if you like annie, check out a band called out hud.
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on 3 January 2005
Fantastic stuff
This album is stupendous stuff. From the very infectious, floorfilling, poptastic Chewing Gum(with a top video to boot if you have seen it) to the more leftfield Heartbeat, it is extremely listenable from start to finish and back again. There seems to be a hotbed of talent coming out of Scandanavia at the moment, with The Concretes and Royksopp amongst my favourite records of recent times and this is up there amongst them. Buy this album now as I would expect it to be one of the successes of 2005 when it gets its official launch in a few months time.
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on 16 March 2005
Pop has been given such a bad name over the past few years thanks to the introduction of talentless boy bands and programmes like 'Pop Idol.' Nice to see then 'Annie' breaking the mould and releasing a grown up collection of pop songs that would give Kylie jealous nightmares. From electronic tracks like 'Chewing Gum' and 'Anniemal' follows a dance track in 'Come Together' that would fill a dance floor the size of a football pitch. And to prove it's not just the feel good tracks she's perfected there's always 'Heartbeat' that sounds Saint Etienne-esq and maybe early Cardigans in it's raw beauty.
This album waves the flag of pop music with pride and sets an example to other 'so called' pop acts.
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on 22 October 2004
Everyone by now has heard the Madonna-sampling Greatest Hit, and the sharp Richard X classic Chewing Gum, but these are only a taster of the array of songs on this album.
Starting with the minute-long Intro, where Annie sounds so deliciously Norwegian you could use her to hunt whales, Anniemal shows that pop can be intelligent and grown up, through several different styles:
There are the upbeat Richard X tracks Chewing Gum and Me Plus One (Intro is also produced by him, which should come as no surprise given the array of chirps, whistles and other samples), the darker, more edgy tracks like Always Too Late, which verges on hip hop, and the silky disco feel of My Heartbeat and No Easy Love.
The production is slick on all of the tracks, compementing Annie's wonderfully fragile, feminine voice, and there is virtually no filler on the album; the skip button remains unused.
This album shows that pop doesn't have to be trash aimed at kids: it's a pop album you'll be proud to own.
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on 14 March 2005
When an album has a title as genius as 'Anniemal' you know it's going to unbelievably excellent before you even begin to play it.
Admitingly, not all the songs grab you on the first listen - but when they do get you, you're glad of it. The 'intro' to the album is packed full of squelching synths and animal cries; which become almost too much. That is until Annie's soothing voice beckons you to 'start the record' and that's where it all begins.
Firstly you have the trademark sound of Richard X, the pop pioneer of the noughties. 'Chewing Gum' is infectious pop, the sort that you find yourself singing or humming to at the most inappropriate times. 'Always Too Late' is a stand off between electro and edgy R&B where it seems both manage to stand down and work together hand in hand. 'Me Plus One' sees Richard X back on production to fashion another excellent peice of pop music, equipped with zaney lyrics, dog barking, a spelling bee and actual whistling. It's just excellent.
Then you have the track 'Heartbeat'. It is so superb. It has a sound and style of it's own and become more enjoyable the more you listen to it - a rarity in todays throw away pop culture. 'Helpless Fool For Love' is another slice of quirky pop, packed fat full of bleeps and even more synths. 'Anniemal' is the title track of the album and is heavily 80s influenced with the vocal effects and dreamlike sounds - it's introduction is brilliant.
'No Easy Love' appears to give you a slight break from the fast paced pop world of Annie. It is so laid back and so stylish. Annie's vocals are delicate and soothing and suit the tone of the song perfectly. It's the sort of track you expect to hear in a Parisian coffee bar or another equally cosmopolitan place.
'Happy Without You' is the angry track. It comes out of nowhere and leaves you feeling slightly perplexed. But after a few listens you realise it's nothing you can't handle and start to appreciate it for it's originality. It proves further Annie's abilities as a singer, songwriter and producer. 'The Greatest Hit' samples Madonna's 'Everybody' perfectly, and although produced in the late 90s, it doesn't sound as though it aged a bit. 'Come Together' is a great disco track that begins quite subdued until the beat and the chorus eventually kick in. 'My Best Friend' seems to have the effect of bringing you back down after the elation of such an excellent pop album. It's mellow and comforting and has a message mostly everyone can relate to.
Annie should be very proud of herself for creating a pop masterpiece. Buy this album. Buy this album now.
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on 5 May 2005
i bought this album, having heard the fantastic single "chewing gum" and thought that the rest of the songs although good, were not as great as this one. "me plus one" is a great example of a similar, funky electro pop song, but i felt others were too slow, and unlike "heartbeat" did not grow on me. the highlighs of the album were all produced by the genius dj richard x, and for fans of the electro-pop genre, i would recommend buying his solo albums, rather than this.
overall, the stand out singles are good enough to merit the 4 star rating, but the others are a bit of a let down.
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on 14 January 2006
Great pop is something to be celebrated. In a world of disposable pop stars, Annie stands out a mile. Her music is co-produced by an army of techno-wizards behind people like Liberty X, the Sugarbabes and Rachel Stevens, though, this album is light years ahead of anything those acts could release. The reason Anniemal works so well is because the songwriting is so good. You could strip most of these songs down to an acoustic guitar or piano and they'd still be the most perfect pop songs you could ever imagine. It also helps that Annie, as a performer, has a great voice... she sounds so fragile and naïve, in the best tradition of bubble-gum (or should that be chewing gum?) pop, using her voice to complement the songs and to entice the listener into her strange and beautiful little pop universe. Why this album hasn't sold by the ton - and why Annie hasn't been crowned the new queen of pop - is beyond me?
Anniemal is perfect pop in the future-tense. It's better than anything the celebrated like of Kylie and the Sugarbabes have done as well, with Annie taking that same smooth, shimmering, electro production, but combining it with songs that are personal, masking a great sense of heart and melancholy behind gorgeous pop hooks and sublime dance beats. I was sceptical at first, put-off by the album's obvious pun in the title and the allusions to those aforementioned pop-strumpets, but this is really electronic pop that can be enjoyed by people who wouldn't normally listen to such. As I said before, the songwriting is exceptional, filled with depth and lyrical intelligence (for example, take a listen to the proto-rap on Me Plus One, with Annie tripping over herself to pack in as many sublime couplets as she can), and delivered with those slightly shy and utterly beguiling lead vocals.
Annie voice is perfect, whether offering up wry, almost spoken lyrics on first single Chewing Gum (a song that initially seems quite inane and annoying, but eventually sinks in and really gets under your skin, like all the best pop songs should), or offering up gentle singling, like on the intro to the epic Come Together, or on the wilting electro-lullaby, My Best Friend. Intro is a great way to start, offering up that bouncing production filled with blips and bleeps, as Annie urges her collaborators to "start the record", before the song merges seamlessly into the should have been classic Chewing Gum. From hereon in, the entire album is just a non-stop joy. The next track, Always Too Late, has a great rap section and synthetic strings that give it an almost orchestral quality... to say that it's better than anything by the Streets would be an understatement, whilst next single Heartbeat is quite simply a master-class in pop songwriting and really, deserves to be number one right across Europe!!!
Helpless Fool for Love is a great piece of pop, seemingly referencing the static, Computer World-era sound of Kraftwerk and the cool chic of Donna Summer disco, simultaneously, juxtaposing nicely with the bouncy pop joy of the title track, on which Annie's voice manages to sound both quiet and quaint, but also defiantly seductive (a definite case of "Norwegian wood" then... arf, arf!!). Annie saves her most seductive moment for the cool vocals of Happy Without You, which has a great beat and an absolutely fantastic chorus refrain, which should really single it out as a potential club hit. It's one of the highlights of this remarkable album, helped along by the grinding, dirty, electro-clash grime of the instrumentation (filled with all manner of jarring bleeps and processed echoes and gargles) all complimenting Annie's sexy-as-hell vocal delivery and the overall greatness of the lyrics. The Greatest Hit dates back to the late-90's and is already a club-classic... featuring Annie's cool vocals, which really capture the ecstasy and excitement of strobe-lit club-life and, that idea of lush, hazy, loved-up l'amour.
As others have mentioned, the backing samples Madonna's 80's club-classic Everybody, and shows us how musically unsophisticated Madge's Abba-sampling single Hung Up really is... with Annie and her collaborators managing to take enough of Everybody for the nod to work, but also including some music of their own. The effect makes it feel like you're right there alongside Annie on blissed-out dance floor, with the lights and smoke-machines creating a woozy atmosphere, and the song drifting in from the back. Come Together is the album's real epic... clocking in at a whopping seven-minutes and forty-nine seconds, but never outstaying it's welcome, it captures Annie on something approaching top form... creating a magical and evocative groove that is impossible to resist. The track starts slowly (as noted above), with Annie's fragile delivery eventually giving way to a galloping electronic beat that slowly gathers momentum before pulling back into a lush, ambient, stop-start middle-eight, filled with echoed vocals, hints of funk and laser'd phaser-style effects.
The closing track is another favourite of mine, with Annie slowing things down to an almost chilled-out (or blissed-out) effect. It's the perfect ending to the perfect pop album... the sleepy coda, perfect for capturing the sleepy bliss of the morning after the night before. The song also reminds me of Abba's classic ode to the ghosts of failed relationships, Like An Angel Passing Through My Room, managing to capture that same sense of late-night melancholy and heartache... proving, once and for all, that Anniemal, as an album, has deeper interpretations lurking beneath the shamelessly POP-exterior. Annie is just great, managing to create pop music that is both joyous, but also filled with depth... she deserves to be huge... and her album really deserves your attention. Honestly, this isn't just one of the standout albums of 2005... it's one of the greatest debut albums of all time.
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on 29 April 2005
Annie burst onto the UK music scene last August with the release of her debut 'Chewing Gum' a superb Richard X Production displaying the finest electro pop the year ever had. The second single the melodic and quirky 'heartbeat' has influences to Kylie's body language whilst at the same time it maintains originality. Anniemal as an album has an enormous electronic stomp in the name of 'Me Plus One' a delighful mash up of eighties melodies laced over soaring synths it is far by a stand out track therefore Annie intends to release the track this July. Always too late is a idiosynctatic collaboration of R n B and electronica, it is a strong track lyrically screaming out lines like 'I don't wanna be your pre-madonna' it packs a hell of a lot of attitude from the pop blonde babe. ulitmately Anniemal is not as mainstream as American life by Madonna or Body language by Kylie however, it is a clever, quirky and distinctive debut from a superstar we really do need as music fans.
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