Don't Stop: Deluxe Edition Import
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2009 UK Deluxe Edition 17-track 2-CD set - A collection of sublime hooks stirred into a melting pot of blazing pop beats, singalong choruses and some odd, twisted darkness here and there, 'Don't Stop' is an album that sounds both instantly catchy and utterly beguiling, mainstream and underground all at once. A totally independent and self-created artist, Annie is a rare pop star, one who has written and created her own album, as well as personally assembling her ownteam, includingher producers and musicians. Complementing her pick'n'mix, Pitchfork-to-Popjustice, genre hopping pincer movement are an array of handpicked associates, including Timo Kaukolampi and Richard X [collaborators from her debut album] and a host of new friends like Paul Epworth [Bloc Party, Primal Scream, Florence and the Machine], Xenomania and Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos. This 2-disc edition comprising the 12-track CD album featuring the single 'Songs Remind Me Of You'; plus the Bonus 5-track 'All Night EP' including 'All Night', 'I Know Ur Girlfriend Hates Me', 'Anthonio', 'I Can't Let Go' & 'Sweet'
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Thankfully, starting with the sly kiss-off of "I Don't Like Your Band," whose grimy, subtly threatening bass line and tap-dancing synth notes create the perfect atmosphere for this double-sided tune, Annie begins to separate herself from the Max Martin pack yet again. When Annie announces "music so good / music so clear" over the most direct, driving beat on the record on "Songs Remind Me Of You", the breakup jam becomes the theme of the record - Annie taking the most basis tenets of pop, music that can hardly be called revolutionary in any sense of the word ("Songs Remind Me Of You," for example, is vintage Kylie Minogue done thrice as good as any recent Minogue song), and making it her own. A trippy, cluttered beat calls to mind a bright-toned horror movie on the haunting ballad "Marie Cherie," while the slow, sexual stomp of "Take You Home" turns things in a whole new direction altogether. Aside from the misguided, blunt metaphor of "The Breakfast Song" (hint: it's not about breakfast), in fact, the remainder of Don't Stop is a manual's guide to effortlessly effective, genuine pop. From the what-if-Franz-Ferdinand-was-fronted-by-Annie tune "Loco" to ballad "When The Night," which is rescued from unbearable amounts of sap by Annie's endearingly charming accent and honest vocals, Don't Stop is the kind of album that walks that aforementioned balance perfectly.
It's the kind of balance embodied in closer "Heaven and Hell," where a sunny chorus and a thoroughly well orchestrated array of atmospheric synths and effervescent drums contrast seamlessly with Annie's sprightly vocals and the song's love-and-hate lyrical matter. It's the kind of frothy, flawless pop song that makes you wonder what's in the water over in Norway, and, more importantly, where can we get more of it over on this side of the pond? Sustaining a career in pop music has never been about evolving one's sound, but rather maintaining the relevance needed to connect to millions of listeners in a time when pop culture is constantly shifting. With Anniemal and now Don't Stop, Annie makes a great case for best pop artist of a new generation, one who knows how to salvage the trash of artists past in order to make a new brand of bubbly, electro-pop confectionary that, thankfully, doesn't rot your teeth right out.
The album has a retro 80s vibe going on throughout it. "The Breakfast Song" even has a tinge of a new wave sound to it. There are even a few pictures in the booklet where she kind of has a mid-80s Bananarama/Madonna look going on.
The reason I gave it 4 stars is that there were a couple of tracks that were left off that are good, like "Anthonio", that you can get on the two disc version. I think that one should have been included here. Also, I'm not crazy about the opening track, "Hey Annie", which I think is supposed to be an answer song to Annie from Anthonio (so I read somewhere, but I can't figure it out from the lyrics). It's an interesting idea telling a story of the two characters in the songs, but if you don't have the Anthonio song on the album, you wouldn't know what that meant.
Definitely one of the better pop albums out there. Recommended if you like 80s music.
What is really cool is that the booklet is a thick paper. Its not that glossy paper that comes with other books, but a thick card stock type paper.
That said, the only reason I'm not giving this album 5 stars is that I discovered this album has bonus tracks as well, which are under another disc name "All Night EP." I heard the those 5 songs somewhere else, and was wondering why they weren't in my album. I guess they're only being sold as part of the actual physical disc set (which is being sold on Amazon, but is way overpriced, and I don't want to re-buy the songs I already have, and pay all that money for 5 songs).
I'm really, really hoping that those 5 tracks become available on Amazon as MP3 downloads, and I can download them individually :)
Overall, a great, fun album!