Thursday, April 12, 2012

First Listen: Anjulie - "White Lights" (Preview)

Anjulie is a performer on a mission. The Canadian singer earned major indie pop cred with her 2008 single "Boom" (VS review) as well as the ultra-groovy "Big Things," featured in the movie Fame. Anjulie's indie fans were left scratching their heads when she returned last year with the dance-pop single "Brand New Bitch" (VS review), some wondering why such a unique artist would choose to go mainstream. However, as Anjulie explained in an interview with Vertigo Shtick last fall, the single was just the first look at what is to be a dance album with a particular purpose: namely, an effort to bring to dance music the sort of lyrical depth and meaning found in alternative music. She offered a peek at the concept on her second single, "Stand Behind the Music," which was more lyric-based and less dance-y; now the singer is previewing an upcoming third single, "White Lights," and it appears that this could be the one to bring Anjulie's vision fully to life.

On "White Lights" (or possibly "White Lights Go" - the final title isn't clear), Anjulie highlights and embraces the unique qualities of her voice in a way we haven't heard since before "Brand New Bitch." This means much of what made "Boom" so magnetic is likewise at work on the slick, cool electronic track. It's a relief to hear Anjulie making use of her exotic advantages because the potential for truly captivating dance music is enormous for an Asian singer (Anjulie is of Indian descent). Comparisons with the dance singer Nadia Ali may become commonplace, but while both singers share a certain ethnic appeal they differ enough to provide separate but complementary elements to dance music rather than being two voices bringing the same thing. While I'll need a peek at the full cut to weigh the effect of the lyrics, the lyrical concept is intriguing enough to elevate the song beyond the generic lyricism commonplace in the more sound-focused dance genre. The choreography in the concept video won't do much to extinguish the Lady Gaga comparisons Anjulie has drawn since "Brand New Bitch," but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

With her two newest singles, Anjulie has made a convincing case for the skeptics' trust as she rolls out the remainder of this project. That isn't to say her admirable mission is guaranteed to be a success, but I'd say we can at least grant her the benefit of the doubt until the full album arrives. I'm sure she is as anxious as anyone to get the album out into the world, and Anjulie fans should make a point to demonstrate their support for these lead singles in hopes of convincing the powers that be to give the LP an expedient green light. I don't usually post previews, but in this case I'm becoming more confident that Anjulie really does have something interesting up her sleeve, and that's news worth reporting.

Anjulie's singles "Brand New Bitch" and "Stand Behind the Music" are available on iTunes and Amazon.

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