Annie

You've heard the story: Girl (Annie) meets boy (Tore), and they produce a word-of-mouth hit single and fall in love. Boy passes away because of a heart defect at 23; girl freaks out for a few years and then produces a highly anticipated full-length. A lesser album would probably require much trumpeting of this sensational, emotional backstory to get any attention. Luckily, Anniemal doesn't need any help.

The album's European release came last year, allowing plenty of time for buzz to build before its stateside release last month. With tracks produced with Röyksopp, Timo Kaukolampi (Op:L Bastards) and Richard X, Anniemal is a strange mix of Kylie's Fever and St. Etienne's Foxbase Alpha, with a hint of pop accessibility thrown in for good measure.

"The Greatest Hit," the original single produced with Tore (credited as "Erot"), appears late on the album, and is definitely a highlight on an album with plenty of the same catchy melodies and self-consciously retro, cutely grinning, danceable hooks. Clever vocals about the usual subjects float on top like a soap bubble, but there's nothing lightweight about the production here. By turns funky and breezy, mechanized and free-flowing, Anniemal never loses sight of its goal.

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Jacob Clifton