After forcing myself to listen to Animal Collective for the longest time, it is nothing short of refreshing to wipe my brain's palate clean by re-acquainting myself with Annie's Anniemal, the Norwegian electronic pop songsmith terrific debut. It's easy to see why the likes of Pitchfork gushed over this record when it finally dropped in 2004. What's terrific about the record is the indie rock production values; some of the tracks sound like Janet Jackson with a turntable and a four-track. Annie's not the best singer in the world, but she's also smart enough to understand this, burying her vocals underneath beats and basslines and synth-loops.
But it's hard not to hear melancholy in songs like “Heartbeat” once you're aware of her backstory. Annie and boyfriend Tore Kroknes, an up-and-coming producer in the house scene across the pond and over the sea, recorded “The Greatest Hit,” and quickly garnered acclaim in their home country before Kroknes died at age 23 from heart complications. Recorded in Röoyksopp's borrowed studio, “The Greatest Hit” samples Madonna's “Everybody” and was released as a 7” inch single on Telle records in 1999. It quickly sold out, catching the attention of producer Richard X, who asked her to contribute to his compilation and in return, produced two of the songs on her eventual album. After Kroknes's death, Annie understandably took five years to complete her album, and as was her aim, the songs don't sound any more dated than the day they were recorded, which is damn near miraculous for a pop record.
“Heartbeat” is one of the best singles of the decade, three minutes of aching and yearning for an old lover to return to the dance floor, and may be the saddest electro-pop song you've ever heard.
“My Love is Better,” is lone non-Anniemal song on my ipod, and it's the kind of delicious pop Annie does best, seething with the same sort of confident personality she displayed in “Chewing Gum.” I had actually forgotten I downloaded this song sometime last year and I am now reminded to check out her new album.