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'Don't Stop' Podcast

Sam Stander talks about Annie's latest.

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Do you want more, baby?" asks Norwegian pop diva Annie at the outset of her long-awaited second album. Her debut Anniemal was a critical smash back in 2004, and Don't Stop doesn't skimp on the catchy, emotive synth-pop of that previous effort.

Annie's lovely dulcet voice is at the core of her appeal-she locates a midpoint between wistful and sexy that perfectly aligns with her '80s-throwback aesthetic. She pulls off the empowered braggadocio of "My Love Is Better" just as deftly as the magnificent slow-dance album climax "When the Night." Silly drill-team romp "The Breakfast Song" would be a throwaway track if it weren't for Annie's sheer exuberance.

The subject matter of Don't Stop is the stuff of all great pop music: dancing, love, loss and, well, pop music. On "I Don't Like Your Band," a Daft Punk-ish intro gives way to a polite rejection song-"It's not you / It's your tunes"-but on "Songs Remind Me of You" it's music that ties her to a lost love. This duality puts Annie squarely in the middle of a universe where experiences are inseparable from music. Incidentally, hers are exactly the sort of songs you might hear in your mind as you fondly remember some experience, whether listening through headphones on the bus or dancing with strangers at a club.

With Don't Stop, Annie has accomplished a rare feat-an intimate and human electronic pop album. These songs aren't cold and robotic, nor are they unearthly or bizarre. They're warm and breathtakingly pretty. It's hard to say at this point if any tracks will have the indelibility of "Chewing Gum" or "Heartbeat" off Anniemal, but "Hey Annie," "Don't Stop" or really anything here has the potential to matter deeply to many, like good music is supposed to.

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