Following up on yesterday's review of Dragonette's latest album BlackPlastic takes a look at Annie's long-awaited second album, Don't Stop.
In constrast to Dragonette's Fixin' To Thrill, Annie's looooong awaited second album takes a bit longer to love. Perhaps it's fitting, since it has taken years to get released, with false starts and internet leaks and at times it felt like it never would see the light of day.
With a tracklist that has seen more changes than the line-up for the Sugababes there are four producers (and that is on top of Annie herself) in Xenomania, Paul Epworth and previous collaborators Richard X and Timo Kaukolampi. With a few tracks (the Epworth efforts) being added at a later date and at least three producers well known for their distinctive styles it is unsurprising that Don't Stop feels a little like a taster menu.
Yet with a but of time invested it becomes clear that Annie still got it. Whist it isn't strong in the traditional sense Annie's voice remains distinctively irresistible - the auditory equivalent of some sort of candy floss / ice cream / chocolate combo that feels sweet, fun and sexy all at once.
Admittedly the album may not flow as well as it would under one (or indeed two, or even three) producers, the individual tunes themselves more than make up for it. 'Songs Remind Me Of You' still feels like perfect Richard X - a re-imagining of the Human League and synth pop for our times. Whilst at least some of the Xenomania tracks shine - 'My Love Is Better' for example - it is Epworth's work that defines the album. Opener 'Hey Annie' breezes with confidence and self-assurance and boasts a depth of sound and detail that sparkles whilst 'I Don't Like Your Band' is the most fantastic put-down record, delivered in a cool and condescending way that just makes Annie seem even cooler:
"Don't get me wrong, I like you - but I don't like your band, your style, your sound"
From Annie's lips it's a pretty cutting line. As we approach the tenth anniversary of Annie's breakthrough single 'Greatest Hit' it seems a shame that we have had to wait so long for new material. It also seems frankly ridiculous that earlier singles 'I Know Ur Girlfriend Hates Me' and 'Anthonio' got cut from this album in an effort to make things fresh since they would comfortably provide highlights here and are hardly over-exposed.
Ultimately though? Annie oozes so much class you can't help but simply revel in her return. BlackPlastic just hopes the next album comes quicker and has Epworth and Richard X at the helm.
Check out 'Songs Remind Me of You' below: