September [US]

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Swedish dance-pop singer September (aka Petra Marklund) scored a U.S. dance hit in 2007 with "Cry for You," a sleek, tuneful bit of prime Euro-disco that borrowed its central riff from Bronski Beat's "Smalltown Boy." Robbins Entertainment followed up that success by releasing this debut album, which is actually a compilation of material from September's second and third Swedish albums, cherry-picking half of the tracks from 2005's In Orbit and all but three from 2007's Dancing Shoes. Taking a no-nonsense approach, it kicks off with her three biggest singles to date; both "Satellites" and the markedly bubblegummy "Can't Get Over" are decently catchy, but "Cry" is the obvious standout, managing to conjure both sophistication and a surprising degree of emotion from its fairly pedestrian frothy electro-pop arrangement and polished but powerful vocal turn. Save for one so-so ballad ("Flowers on the Grave"), the remainder of the selections follow the same basic approach in arrangement, tempo, and tone, to fine but generally diminishing results. At its worst, the material is slightly cringe-inducing (the dopey lyrics of "My Neighbourhood"; the shameless "Bette Davis Eyes" sample on "Midnight Heartache"); at its best it's well-executed but unremarkable. The main problem with September's music is that, unlike her Scandinavian counterparts such as Robyn and Annie, she doesn't project much personality -- her voice is decent, and even warm at times, but the lyrics are empty and she comes off as a complete cipher. Still, "Cry for You" is a strong enough track (though fairly faceless too, in its way) that even an album's worth of half-hearted imitations holds some interest for fans of the genre.

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