21 year-old Swedish pop sensation Agnes is a very accomplished pop star in Europe and Australia already. North Americans however, are still unfamiliar with this Swedish Idol winner on the whole. This will change however in 2010 with Cherrytree Records overseeing her official stateside debut, Dance Love Pop. That label was responsible for introducing important acts like Robyn, La Roux, Keane, Feist and Lady Gaga to America.
Dance Love Pop is actually Agnes' third studio effort and despite having read much praise about her via many fellow bloggers, I went into the refrigerator with low expectations seeking a generic can of diet pop. Instead I came out with a decadent Ice Cream Float complete with all the fixings - sweet Maraschino Cherry vocals and whipped cream of the crop production, thanks to Anders Hansson. Hansson was responsible for some of the stunning work featured on Cher's 2002 album Living Proof.
The album begins with the excellent Release Me, borrowing a little from that famous string line heard on Coldplay's Viva La Vida. The single has done very well in the UK reaching number three and it has already found success in the U.S. reaching number one on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play Chart. Its soaring chorus is instantly memorable as Agnes pleads to be set free from a toxic relationship since "she's not able to", much in the same vein as The Supremes' and then Kim Wilde's You Keep Me Hangin' On.
Second track On & On demands your full attention with its familiar hook and a '90s-obsessed sound which is one part 2 Unlimited, one part Ace of Base. Love Me Senseless had me from the moment I heard those dramatic strings and it features a melody line in the background which reminds me of Robin S' Show Me Love. Signature '90s.
How Do You Know borrows conceptually in its lyrics from Whitney Houston's How Will I Know and melodically speaking, it is derivative of New Order's Bizarre Love Triangle and the more recent Gwen Stefani track 4 In The Morning. It is nothing new, but still affecting nonetheless.
Don't Pull Your Love Out sums up The Agnes Experience neatly - being in love with someone who doesn't quite have the same feelings you do and fluctuating back and forth between moving on versus holding on. Closing number Love Love Love is a generous serving of feel-good, somewhat reminiscent of Donna Summer's pop gem This Time I Know It's For Real but with loftier production.
The North American pressing of Dance Love Pop will have a few track substitutions as I learned via Chart Rigger's recent "spooky" interview with Agnes. She was in the U.S. recently working on new material for the album's first quarter 2010 release. It will be interesting to see what modifications will be made from its original format seeing that the album was released first in the summer of 2008. Nonetheless, it appears that we are on the verge of a '90s revival especially with label mate Lady Gaga paving the way for others in her campaign for world pop domination. Blog-loved acts like Alphabeat also are partaking in the fun with their sophomore album The Spell being very much '90s-centric.
Listen to Agnes' Release Me (Radio Edit) below (courtesy of Cherrytree Records/Universal Music):
Agnes' Dance Love Pop is everything I love in an album: strong melodies, a great vocalist, sophisticated vocal arrangements and many chances to get up and dance. Although traditionally edgier, Cherrytree Records is taking a bit of a risk here marketing a pure pop artist like her in America, but if artists like Leona Lewis and Natasha Bedingfield can carve out their own niche in the market successfuly, then there's definitely room for Agnes. Grade: A-