Annie readies second album

Singer forges ahead without label support

NEW YORK -- After a worldwide record deal with Island Records collapsed last year, Norwegian electropop songstress Annie is forging ahead with plans to release her second album, "Don't Stop," sometime in 2009.

"I own the masters, so I can do whatever I want to do. I might do it myself, on my own label," she said. "We're talking to people too. There's so much happening in the business right now. In a way, I feel to do things on your own, you're in control. I've always been this sort of artist that people don't know how to categorize me and what to do with me."

Annie scored international acclaim for her 2004 debut for 679 Recordings, "Anniemal," which spawned the hits "Heartbeat" and "Chewing Gum." Atlantic picked up the album for North American release in June 2005; it has sold 20,000 copies here, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The Island deal fell apart after the label group's U.K. president, Nick Gatfield, left the company to join EMI as president of A&R for North America, the U.K. and Ireland. "It's just difficult, when you first work with someone and you have a vision and an idea of what you want to do, and suddenly you're working with someone who doesn't care about anything at all," Annie said.

As for "Don't Stop," the album was originally slated to include 12 tracks, but Annie said that could change, as she's completed close to 60 songs. "It's sort of a template," she said of the once-thought-to-be-completed version. "I actually have enough for two albums, so I don't know if I'm going to put out the one as it is, and one right after, or just some songs as ('Don't Stop') with a couple that no one's heard. But I want to release a lot (this) year."

Fans charmed by the idiosyncratic dance pop of "Anniemal" will find clear creative growth on "Don't Stop," which ranges from club-ready, Girls Aloud-worthy kiss-offs like "My Love Is Better" and "I Know UR Girlfriend Hates Me" to propulsive, rock-tinged cuts like "Song Reminds Me of You" and "Bad Times" and sweet, synth-y ballads like "When the Night." Fans of Goldfrapp, Madonna and Kylie Minogue will feel quite at home.

Two singles, "Anthonio" and "My Love Is Better," are slated for release sometime in the first quarter of this year. Meanwhile, Annie is building a home studio in Berlin, designing the artwork for the singles and mulling live dates in Europe and North America.