Review: Annie – “Dark Hearts”

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Synthpop/elektropop

Published:

2020

Record label:

Annie Melody


«Long awaited comeback.»

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ALBUM: Annie is not forgotten, though it’s eleven years since the previous album. It may be because time goes by very fast (!), But just as much that the artist and DJ made a clear mark when she debuted twenty years ago. She was an ever so small pop sensation, in “pre-digital” times. As recently as two years ago, one of her songs was sampled on an album that was at number one on the Billboard chart, and the comeback is getting a lot of attention abroad.

Guts

And it must be said, you have guts when you call your very first single “Greatest Hit”. Anna Lilia Berge Strand (43 years old next month) did it 21 years ago. In 2004, the album «Anniemal» followed. Five years later, after she was dropped by the record company, “Don’t Stop” came – a title that would prove to give a completely wrong signal. Before became stop, and if we ignore a couple of EPs and a single, it’s been eleven years since the previous album.

In the meantime, Annie has moved back to Bergen from Berlin, and she has given birth to two children at the same time as she has worked on the album to and from the last three years.

– I recorded a lot of music while I was pregnant, and threw up while I sang, she says in the press release.

Annie - with her heart in her hand

Annie – with her heart in her hand

Swedish duo

The synth pop as a genre is not forgotten either, it just comes and goes. Annie runs the line out on “Dark Hearts”.

The collaboration with Röyksopp on a couple of songs, contributed to the success of the album debut in 2004. This time she has collaborated with Stefan Storm from the Swedish synthpop duo Sounds Of Arrows. But – the album is not as different from the album debut as one might think, 16 years later – except that it is now an adult woman who makes music and lyrics from her new point of view in life.

Cold and hot

Synth and electro pop are seen by many as cool and impersonal “machine music”, but it does not have to be that way. I’m among those who clapped when Kari Bremnes released the electronics-based album “Det vi har” in 2017. It was “different”.

Annie follows up here, with songs that should find their way to the right playlists. Already in «The Streets Where I Belong» she introduces the solo guitar in her soundscape. «Take it away,….Johnny» she says nicely in «The Streets Where I Belong» – a very personal song about a girlfriend who died from her young, Tore «DJ Erot» Kroknes.

Norwegian country pearl

Norwegian country pearl

Rein pop

Jonas Pettersson’s guitars are significantly back in «Miracle Mile» – in a solo that smells a bit 80s and heavy ballad. It’s moving in the direction of pure pop. After a short intermission, the “Twin Peaks” -inspired love ballad “Corridors of Time», with a partially reciting Annie, it continues in «Forever ’92», where a saxophone contributes to variation in the soundscape.

It is topped with catchy «American Cars». A fixed synth theme frames both a romantic and dramatic text, probably inspired by David Cronenberg’s controversial car fetish film “Crash” from 1996:
«Before we crash
Kiss the end of the stars
In American cars»

Ballads «Stay Tomorrow» somewhat reminiscent of Madonna when she was on the same chopped musical with the album “Music” when Annie started, twenty years ago.

The very best is placed at the very end. «It’s Finally Over» must be remembered as one of the year’s finest pop songs – beautiful three minutes and 16 seconds that opens with a thunderclap and ends with birdsong, a song so elegantly performed that I hope the radio producers put it on full rotation. «It’s finally, finally over / And the birds will be singing / And the bells will be ringing», she sings with a big smile on her face. We had tolerated more of this.

That the grade does not get higher is due to three or four songs (out of 13) that do not hold exactly the same level and are experienced as “filler” – without forgetting that “Dark Hearts” at best is a brilliant album.

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