I know this will eventually get a UK release, since first single "Release Me" has become a big hit, but I couldn't wait and snatched up a Swedish import. I'm happy to report that Dance Love Pop brilliantly lives up to its title. It's a catchy, crisply produced dance pop album, that refreshingly draws its inspiration from more places than just the mid-'80s (although there is a little bit of that too).
In fact, a lot of it is very '90s-sounding, taking its cues more from house and disco than new wave. "Release Me" is joyously upbeat, effectively scored with orchestral flourishes, piano, and a driving dance beat. "On and On" is even clubbier, sounding not unlike a 2Unlimited track, while "Love Me Senseless" recalls the sharp bass synth of Robin S's "Show Me Love."
The '80s show up on tracks like "Open Up Your Eyes" and "How Do You Know," which sound like something Whitney Houston would have done back in the day, although the latter is not a remake of that diva's 1986 hit. "Look at Me Now" is similar, kicking off a disco-sounding intro but transitioning quickly to mid-'90s dance pop. For retro-kitsch appeal though nothing tops over-the-top "Love Love Love," a pitch-perfect '70s-disco-styled love song. Sure it's cheesy, but it's so well done that you can't help but love it.
Even the ballads are good. Guitar-and-strings based "I Need You Now" is so radio-ready that you swear it's already been a hit. "Sometimes I Forget" sounds like the kind of ballad Britney Spears would have done a few years ago, although in the hands of Agnes, who can actually sing, rises above any of Ms. Spears' half-hearted attempts to show emotion. "Big Blue Wall" is interesting--darker, piano-driven, not unlike a Delta Goodrem ballad--but again, the vocals are of a much higher caliber.
Dance Love Pop is the kind of quality pop production we've come to expect from the Swedes. Agnes, winner of the second season of Sweden's version of American/Pop Idol in 2005, blossoms here just like Kelly Clarkson and Will Young did after winning their seasons.
Best: Release Me, Love Love Love, On and On, I Need You Now, Look at Me Now