Annie’s 2004 debut Anniemal — and its most popular single, “Heartbeat” — was a great minor pop classic of the ‘00s, a collection of cuts that distilled the dance-pop of Madonna and Kylie Minogue into sweetly melancholy forms, garnering plenty of critical admiration along the way. Last year’s short-form collaboration with long-time producer Richard X, The A&R EP, proved she hadn’t lost a step in the decade that followed; new single “Russian Kiss,” an interdisciplinary effort with provocative Norwegian visual artist Bjarne Melgaard, marries her trademark club-ready pulse to a piece of timely social activism.
Its release coinciding with the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics, the NSFW video for “Russian Kiss” protests Russia’s anti-LGBT legislation with the subtlety of a blow from a rainbow-coloured sledgehammer: from gay and lesbian make-out sessions to a musical climax flecked with orgasmic male groans, the message is loud and clear. Annie’s there in the middle of it all, her voice cool and relaxed against the heat of the sentiment; if the video’s message lingers half as long as the effect of that contrast, consider its job well done.
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