live in chagrin and with lovely little shames. I watch Laguna Beach. I’m in love with Kristen. In a market governed by prepubescent ad dollars and shrewd insouciance, I’m an old man. Teetering on the brink of thirty, and infatuated with this boisterous and supremely-confident femme fatale from afar. And yet the show always steams in me, with its quietly bruising nostalgia. Not just that I watch it, though certainly that plays a part. Instead, it’s the second-sight of age, flickered through the remove of the screen, pulling me back to those days we all slight but hold in secret warmth. Call them what you will. Pre-adulthood, the comforting of an age without necessity. Regardless, it’s an uneasy feeling, but one I return to each and every Monday night.
I mention this because, in listening to the new DJ Kicks mix by Annie—whose shy sublimity (check the cover of Anniemal versus this one: girl’s pulling you in) is far sexier than Kristen’s stern harpy quality—I feel a heartier nostalgia at glow, one more soothing and enlightening than simple loss and past. Maybe it’s my taste for Saul Bellow, working me over with his beatitude, but I doubt it. He’s not as hot. Plus, he’s dead.
With DJ Kicks we’ve lost the angst, the melancholy, in reshaping our histories. We’re left just a pulsating rub through the dance-floor sounds of the decades—electro, disco, glammy new wave. Within Annie’s own world, this makes all too much sense. She’s incorporated fond memories for the glow and weightlessness of yesterday’s dance tracks into a mix album that will make you giggle to yourself in your office as surely as it’ll boot-kick your Friday night into another gear. After all, she was our reminder last year to drop our cold veneer and romp. We couldn’t help but join the fray. Thus, this feels like a personal hand-me-down, a gift from a woman you think you know well but may not. You can look back fondly, to the sugar rush of late telephone calls under the covers, of sneaking out in the drawn crude light of dawn, of kidnapping another weekend night from the week.
Someone has to push this space with their own sense. Annie does just this, with help from musical compatriot Timo, by bringing it all around again through hodgepodge and facsimile without ever losing her smile. She summons our synthetic reminders, so much glittery disco-pomp and lost beat-gems, into an album whose sequencing is smooth and whose tracklist holds almost no duds. For a woman who insists as a DJ “technically I suck,” this DJ Kicks seems to add liar to her list of talents.
Starting with the glaring circus candy-go-round of Toy’s “Rabbit Pushing Mover,” Annie opens her favorites to the zoot-scoot disco of La Bionda’s “I Wanna be Your Lover” and the raucous Junior Senior remix of Le Tigre’s “Nanny Nanny Boo Boo.” Zongamin’s hypnotic “Bongo Song” greets the day after apocalypse, joined by Liquid Liquid’s “Flextone,” all spinebreak cowbells and chimes until the mind realizes how lost it’s become, how futile the effort, and fades to leave the feet moving.
For those of you who tire of the mix set, Annie’s included a couple new tracks of her own to draw you in. Produced by her friends in Royksopp, “Wedding” is slobbering tech-funk too juiced to lick its lips mid-stride. Against a bubble-trunked backbeat and a rich palette of synth sounds, Annie plays the daring temptress, curling her finger with lines like “You know what we could be / So join the enemy.” “Gimme Your Money,” helmed by Timo, isn’t quite as dazzling, with its disco beat and descending melodic pattern, but this is still Annie, coy diva stepping out for the curtain-call.
Elsewhere, aside the Alan Braxe remix of DFA ‘79’s rancorous dance-metal “Black History Month” and the jubilant Chipmunk funk of Bumblee Unlimited’s “Lady Bug,” there are timeless cuts like Bow Wow Wow’s firefunk anthem “I Want Candy” and Alan Vega’s mascara skinnybilly, “Jukebox Babe.” Mixing the aged with the novel, and always providing plenty of get-the-fuck-out-how-could-you fun, Annie winds up creating a work with more in common with Morgan Geist’s near-classic Unclassics than recent inclusions in the DJ Kicks series (Erlend Oye!).
Oh, Annie, you hearthache tyrant. This was supposed to be the annum of Robyn, Rachel Stevens, and Girls Aloud. You opened our sagging indie to the largesse of metagirl-pop last year and we thanked you. But now you sneak in through the back door, unannounced with cherry mud on your shoes and Bubblicious in your hair, fucking it all up by showing us your hand again, oh so full, and reminding us why we love you so.