Annie, 'Don't Stop' (Smalltown Supersound)

Critical Mass
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by SPIN Staff

Once dubbed "the anti-Kylie," Norway's Annie ignited the blogosphere back in 2004, releasing a slew of flawless electro-pop singles. With the snappy, lip-smacking "Chewing Gum," the sublimely cresting "Heartbeat," and the rest of her debut album Anniemal, she was the amiably cool blonde chanteuse that you could safely swoon over.

Eventually lost in Island Def Jam's reshuffling, Annie has retreated to Norwegian indie Smalltown Supersound for her follow-up, relegating 2008 single "I Know UR Girlfriend Hates Me" to a bonus disc. Although she's now labelmates with spacey disco countryman Hans-Peter Lindstrøm, Don't Stop boasts gleaming dance-pop production from first-album collaborators Richard X and Timo Kaukolampi, plus Bloc Party/Kate Nash producer Paul Epworth and Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos.

Amid the booming, whistling cheerleader stomp of opener "Hey Annie," she hollas back about finding "a new pulse," and throughout Don't Stop, the singer does come off as feistier, even combative. During the bubbly "My Love Is Better," she sasses back that "My lips are better than your tricks." And though she pays tribute to a former muse between the New Order/"Blue Monday" breaks of "Songs Remind Me of You," she's more convincing on the coldly dismissive "I Don't Like Your Band." By brashly streamlining her sound, Annie has almost brushed the winsome heart off her sleeve.

WATCH: Annie, "Songs Remind Me of You"

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