Written by: Annie Strand and Richard X
Produced by: Richard X
Album: A & R EP
Highest UK Chart Position: did not chart
The first material from Annie since 2009’s Don’t Stop album was the surprise single ‘Tubestops and Lonely Hearts‘, which was released in the spring of 2013. It featured a video that was so low-budget it looked like it had been cobbled together during an episode of Blue Peter. By the the time ‘Back Together’ was released it became apparent that actually the entire ‘look’ of this Annie campaign harked back to the late 80s/early 90s vogue for cheapo dance-pop videos that cost 10p to make. The A & R EP sleeve looked like those you’d expect to find houseing Italo house singles from 1990. And the official video for ‘Back Together’ parodied The ITV Chart Show’s dance charts, in a quite wonderful way. The heavy-handed computer graphics are present, as are the rather unreliable ‘fact’ boxes. (There seems to be a small but dedicated coterie of Chart Show aficionados out there in – if the mocked up editions of the Chart Show available on Vimeo and YouTube are anything to go by, it is clear that I am not alone in missing a Saturday morning update on the week in pop.)
Throughout the A & R EP Annie and her long-time associate Richard X summoned the spirit of the summer of 1990, and the kind of dance-pop that was in vogue just before the ‘electrobleep’ fad (remember the eponymous singles from Tricky Disco and LFO that summer?) and the later full-on rave Eu-4-ia of 1991 took hold. Annie’s songs are as sweet-sad as ever, and on ‘Invisible’ there is a debut appearance from Mannie: a sort of inversion of Prince’s ‘Camille’ character, being Annie’s slowed down to masculine drawl. ‘Ralph Macchio’ is a doomed but touching serenade to the erstwhile Karate Kid actor, and ‘Hold On’ and ‘Mixed Emotions’ channel the melancholic sound of Saint Etienne and Pet Shop Boys when they were at their best. Annie is not renowned for being prolific but she promised that the A & R EP was the first in a series. The phrase “don’t hold your breath” springs to mind, but it is perhaps their meticulous attention to detail that make Annie and Richard X such a formidable team. One way or another, the A & R EP was worth waiting for.