Annie - Anniemal
Anniemal seems to have been sitting on the shelf unreleased for ages, and, despite a couple of excellent preceding singles and a near cult buzz surrounding the Norwegian singer, it's easy to see why. In short, this album may disappoint those Annie fans not zealous enough to have already picked it up on import.
A record full of subtle, almost innocent pop, Anniemal should best appeal to those tired of having their ears bludgeoned by the likes of Girls Aloud. Heartbeat, for example, is quite the perfect three minute song, happiness tinged with just the right amount of poignancy, and an excellent melding of light production and Annie's sweet voice. At the other end of the scale, however, is Me Plus One. With its semi-rap (see also Always Too Late) and cringeworthy references to Top of the Pops, one suspects even S Club Juniors might have turned it down. Surprisingly, the title track - cheesy Euro-pop at its worst - is another that falls flat on its face.
Between these extremes is Come Together. Beginning rather beautifully, Annie's vocal to the fore, it mutates into sub Scissor Sisters disco and struggles to justify its eight minute length. Then there's album closer My Best Friend, which would be a melancholy success were it not for the terrible lyrics.
So we're left with a smattering of unqualified hits. In addition to Heartbeat, there's the sassy, Richard X produced Chewing Gum, the Madonna-sampling Greatest Hit, the relaxed No Easy Love and the tougher Happy Without You (which, musically, almost sounds Beck inspired). Why I Will Get On, arguably Annie's best and most sophisticated song, isn't included is anyone's guess.
Anniemal is refreshingly light, frequently too so for its own good. What works for Annie often also works against her. In the future, she will hopefully find the key to success beyond her native land (sticking with her better producers so far may help), but until then we're left with a frustrating album which as a whole almost works.