Annie | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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When indie rockers start blogging mash notes to superficial Europop, I get a smidgen suspicious: Why go spelunking in the vast recesses of the Internet for catchy trifles when you can just switch on the radio? Maybe some folks are so snobby they can only enjoy the thrill of pop when it doesn't have the perceived baggage of actual popularity. Or maybe there are genuinely smashing tracks out there like Annie's "Chewing Gum," a Tom Tom Club-style electropop groove by writer-producers Hanna Robinson and Richard X, who've developed into a kind of meta-pop Stock/Aitken/Waterman. The title feigns a wink at the track's bubbly disposability, but the lyrics are actually about the string of boys that get used and tossed away by the Norwegian on the mike, and that's just one hint that there's more to Annie than initially meets the ear. Though her MP3-thin upper register can make Madonna sound like Aretha, it's subtly effective, whether she's gently teasing or murmuring like she's slightly dazzled by her sonic surroundings. And "Chewing Gum" is one of only two tracks on her full-length debut, Anniemal (Big Beat), for which she doesn't share a writing credit. It's easy to hear why Pitchfork named "Heartbeat," her collaboration with downtempo duo Royksopp, the best single of 2004: a sublime celebration of finding love on the dance floor that channels disco's willful confusion of the erotic and the spiritual, it's everything those indie nerds claimed it was. Everything, that is, except funner than "Toxic"--that's just crazy talk. DJ Major Taylor opens. Thu 6/30, 9 PM, Sonotheque, 1444 W. Chicago, 312-226-7600, $10.

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