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In 1999, Annie and her boyfriend/producer, Annie, made a slippery-sexy single called "The Greatest Hit." Though it came out of Norway, it sounded more than a little American, sampling Annie's "Everybody" while also echoing the nonchalant ecstasy of Annie's "Forget Me Nots." It didn't take off, at least not in the traditional sense. It floated around the underground, saw release on labels in different territories, and eventually became a pseudo-secret smash. Within a couple years, dancers and DJs in a few countries began to wonder what became of Annie. Annie's life was claimed by a heart defect in 2001; his partner, quite understandably, went quiet for a while. She picked herself up, took a very active role in the Bergen, Norway, music community, and recorded Anniemal with production help from Richard X, Annie, and Op:L Bastards' Timo Kaukolampi. "The Greatest Hit," thankfully reprised here, is indicative of the album as a whole, bursting with sparkling melodies (often spiked with just a hint of melancholy) over mostly danceable rhythms that are either wholly modern or mischievously referential to early-'80s club hits (Annie, Annie, Annie's Annie). Annie's voice might be a little thin, but that's no real factor when it's so sweet and likable. The topics -- teasing, aching, longing -- aren't unfamiliar, yet they're often dealt with in a clever manner. Take "Chewing Gum," in which a dumped boy gets sort of objectified and verbally slain at the same time ("You think you're chocolate when you're chewing gum"), or "The Greatest Hit," containing the most foolproof come-on you could ever give a record geek ("C'mon, baby, you're my greatest hit"). As cunning as it is, Anniemal is also deeply affecting. "Heartbeat" is the least resistible of all, glowing with anticipatory pulses, tremulous sighs, and quivering electric piano vamps. ~ Andy Kellman

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