Thursday, January 15, 2015

Anjulie's "Love Sick", Continues to Make Music That's Better Than You

Look, the streets of Los Angeles are paved with the broken dreams and unreleased music of many thousands of pop stars, also-rans, and would-be pop stars. It's just that some of these streets are nicer than others. If you're Canadian dance-pop philosopher Anjulie, it's more like Melrose Place.

Anjulie is love sick! (Haahh.) (Hooo!)
Like many artists before her, Anjulie spent the better part of the current decade working on a brilliant yet challenging pop project for her sophomore album, one that messed with both the typical label-artist career path and the genre boundaries and definitions to which label marketing teams cling fearfully, and I'm betting you can guess how that went.

Despite a couple of moderate hits in Canada, the platinum single "Brand New Bitch" (#16) and Benny Bennassi-produced "You and I," (#25) which won the Juno Award for Best Dance Recording, the label balked at additional material and Anjulie was finally released from her contract last year. It was a Pyrhhic victory, of course, as any loss-cutting move is, because while the singer now has artistic freedom, we will probably never get to hear the album, Rainbow Bullets - although how close to album form it had gotten is unclear, of course, so it's hard to define the nature of the loss.

Much of the unreleased material from the period is tightly controlled by the label, although there are several music videos and a few lingering Soundcloud tracks, including "White Lights," the single the label was apparently unwilling to release, and "Karma Bitch," which uses the same Zedd-produced track that Lady Gaga later used on "Donatella", from ARTPOP (a lawsuit was filed). Poking around in the detritus is like looking through the embers from a really amazing vacation home after a forest fire.

Fortunately, Anjulie hasn't stopped, and earlier this month she posted to Soundcloud what I believe is her first independent record since leaving her label. It's called "Love Sick", and it certainly proves she's not abandoning her hipster-cred ingenuity anytime soon. Labeled a "Mashup" but really a full remodeling of Norwegian producer Lindstrøm's 2010 song "Lovesick", off his well-received album with singer Christabelle, Real Life is No Cool. She keeps the production and the title, but everything else is all Anjulie; she's written a whole, weird, head-nodding song over it (take that, Beyoncé). She jumps around from icy alto on the verses to squeaky, girly whines on the chorus, punctuated by low "hahhh"s and falsetto "hooo!"s, and it's not clear who she's aiming it at but she's definitely oozing scorn. The emotional violence is biting and controlled, although it's remarkable that a song so menacing can be so hilariously fun as well; it's like a Quentin Tarantino film, only Jackie Brown rather than Pulp Fiction.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Anjulie is the real deal, and she's onto something. Each thing she does reinforces the need to keep paying attention.

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