If the most striking feature of Disco Romance, Sally Shapiro's utterly charming debut album, was its uncannily meticulous evocation of early-'80s Italo disco in all its fragile, intimate glory, the most notable thing about this follow-up set may be how fully and faithfully it replicates its predecessor. Save for an occasionally perceptible updating and subtle toughening of their sound, and a marginally poppier writing approach (thanks largely to the increased involvement of Nixon/Cloetta Paris songsmith Roger Gunnarsson), Johan Agebjörn and his still-secretive chanteuse have hardly altered their working template, so album number two feels mostly like a déjà vu whirlwind of glistening synths and icily insistent beats, laden with sweetly cooed romantic disclosures and hushed spoken asides. It's a rather less uncanny feat the second time around, certainly, and My Guilty Pleasure can't help but feel like something of a letdown after the starry-eyed singularity and surprise of Shapiro's initial appearance, but more of the same is, in this case, far from a horrible thing. To some extent, it's hard to say what else could have been expected -- the two discs' worth of largely reverent remixes that followed Disco Romance were surprisingly scant on potential new directions (that said, the one remixer who crops up again here, Tensnake, does provide a loose, poppy highlight in "Moonlight Dance," even if it's less distinctive than his dubby, percussive mix of "I'll Be By Your Side"). Excepting perhaps wholesale retreads like "Looking at the Stars" and "My Fantasy" (dead ringers for the first album standouts "Hold Me So Tight" and "I Know"), the sameness of the sound isn't necessarily such a problem in itself; more disappointing is that nothing here follows up on the charismatic songwriting promise of the stellar inter-album singles "He Keeps Me Alive" and "Jackie Jackie" (which appeared on the North American release of Disco Romance and the European edition of this album) -- even with Gunnarsson aboard, nothing here approaches the personable nature of those songs or of his work for Cloetta Paris (whose overlooked 2008 debut is a far more worthy next step for Shapiro admirers). The closest are probably "Love in July" (featuring an almost imperceptible vocal cameo from Paris), whose electro-tinged warmth does indeed inject a bit of summer into Shapiro's decidedly wintry vibe, and "Save Your Love," a simple but touching blast of quasi-Hi-NRG dance. The lushly arranged album closer, (and first single), "Miracle" is a nicely effective piece of overwrought emotionalism, complete with fake thunderstorm. A little variety goes a long way -- here's hoping the next album will continue to explore further afield. In the meantime, this may be a holding pattern, but it's one worth holding on to. Diminishing results are, after all, still results.
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AllMusic Review by K. Ross Hoffman