Aquarium — also known as “the album your little sister used to listen to” — makes no attempt at disguising what it is. It’s not varied, or subtle, or smart. It grabs hold of a single working formula (fun danceable bubblegum pop) and spends forty minutes mugging it in a dark alley.
The songs are simple but very tightly constructed, with production as light and airy as spongecake. Lene Nystrøm’s voice has a strange but not unpleasant tonality to it, her voice sounds like that of a talented singing alien. Male vocalist René Dif exists mostly as a foil to Nystrøm’s voice. He could never carry a song on his own, but his back-and-forth exchanges with the female vocals are fun and energetic.
Aqua songs are very catchy. The melodies have a tendency of entering your head and kind of barricading themselves in there, Rorke’s Drift style — armies of Zulus may be needed to dislodge them. “Barbie Girl” is the most famous track (Blender or someone referred to it as “Scandi-Wegian pedo pop”) but “Doctor Jones” and “My Oh My” are also very good. “Be a Man” is boring, but “Turn Back Time” brings the album to a new level of class (ie, any level of class). You’d be ashamed to listen to the rest of this album in mixed company, but “Turn Back Time” sounds mature and sophisticated.
For the most part, the album is full of childish nursery-rhyme lyrics are both adorable and entertainingly creepy. There’s a fair few double-entendres here and there, no doubt an adult could fit his or her own experiences to the words.
Still, the album was clearly written with a particular age range in mind. “Heat of the Night” has Rene Dif confiding “the tequila is here” in an aren’t-I-scandalous voice. So, he brought tequila. I wonder what else he brought that we can’t tell mom and dad about. Alcoholic chocolates shaped like hearts? Stripped by Christina Aguilera…the UNCENSORED version? Plainly, shit is about to go down.
Aquarium is very embarrassing but I think it survives better today than Drake or Pitbull’s albums will in 15 years. It’s catchy, and relatively free of annoying 90s gimmicks. If you want the manly version of this album, acquire I Get Wet by Andrew WK, which is 95% the same but has loud guitars.