Games we don't wanna play
Same winner everyday
Kill for the second best
Feel no more, feel no less
t.A.T.u. were never one-hit wonders, but they did become one of the biggest jokes in pop music history. But I don’t think Americans really understand how sleazy the Russian music scene is. It’s a life that is fueled openly by money, and producers put tracking devices on your vocal chords and entirely control your image. And for Lena and Yulia, that meant acting as lesbians for their debut release(s) 200 km/H in the Wrong Lane. What they didn’t realize was just how important such an album would turn out to be. While it got its foot in the door because America loves seeing two hot chicks making out, it gained a rapid cult following amongst queer youth at the time. And although the girls had to publicly come out, saying they weren’t a couple after all, I still enjoy their first album very much. I think we all kind of knew it was an awkward hoax. Today, the girls still have a lesbian-erotic image fueled by friendship, and they are currently on hiatus to pursue solo projects. And when I started getting back into them, it was 2005, and little did I know it would be perfect timing. A little old album called Dangerous & Moving was set to come out on a new label. The girls left their Russian management and took more control. Though they still didn’t contribute to the songwriting, they gave their heart and soul on this record, the only issue being a few lackluster tracks. But once again, their vocal performances brought back that gritty fantastical atmosphere of their debut and continued the story as if no time had passed.
This record holds some bitter memories, but I can’t deny that it’s another catchy pop record that combined Russian techno with American rock, which certainly makes for an interesting listening experience. The entire concept behind this project, which seems to be about breaking down and “stickin’ together” just works for t.A.T.u., who are two very mellow-dramatic performers. I remember when the first single, All About Us hit the scene, the video directly dealing with the lesbian controversy. The video is, once again, amazing and an instant classic, but it was the song that I found so endearing, particularly the way it’s performed. The dramatic and end-of-the-world vibe it has makes it something that only they could sing; ironically enough, it was written by The Veronicas, and I can’t imagine them recording it with the same power and effect. This record has what I love in one of their albums: hooks. NOBODY gave me hooks like the t.A.T.u. team, and I remember both being scared and excited for the new project, which promised to be amazing. Though they worked with new people (and some actual musicians), they all tapped directly in what the two girls are about. The sense of camaraderie you get listening to this record is crazy, particularly on the aforementioned debut single and Cosmos (Outer Space), which is another track with cryptic lyrics in the same vein as Clowns from their debut record.
This album, unfortunately, is not as continuous as the first album, but you do get more songs. The title-track is one that is almost there: the concepts, the sound, and the drama…but the dull vocals and boring lyrics kind of kill it for me. The melody is so very t.A.T.u. that it’s hard to believe how irksome it is. This record sound expensive—it doesn’t play like they just sat in the studio groping each other for hours. Loves Me Not is cheesy-kitsch and Friend or Foe is pure awesome, but then you get to the Russian Ya Obez’yanka Nol (ENG: Monkey #0), which has the brooding and miserable production that complements their voices. The girls have been accused of not being able to sing, but I disagree. At times, Yulia can get very shrill, but I find that no matter which octave she hollers or croons in, it’s all for the effect, and she sounds unbelievable on the bittersweet Sacrifice. With musical cameos from Sting and Richard Carpenter, you’d this record would receive a little more musical credibility, but as a whole, it’s just not as strong as their debut. That said, it’s everything I could have hoped for in their second record, even though it only went to #130 (you better believe that I bought it the day it came out). For an act that never should have made it, this record is truly a testament to how well these two chicas can evoke emotion, even if they don’t actual help write the music.
01. Dangerous & Moving (Intro) [--]
02. All About Us [5 Stars]
03. Cosmos (Outer Space) [5 Stars]
04. Loves Me Not [4 Stars]
05. Friend or Foe [5 Stars]
06. Gomenasai [4.5 Stars]
07. Craving (I Only Want What I Can’t Have) [3 Stars]
08. Sacrifice [4 Stars]
09. We Shout [4 Stars]
10. Perfect Enemy [3.5 Stars]
11. Ya Obez’yanka Nol (ENG: Monkey #0) [4 Stars]
12. Dangerous & Moving [3.5 Stars]
BEST: Cosmos (Outer Space), Friend or Foe
WORST: Craving (I Only Want What I Can’t Have)
SCORE: 4 STARS (4.1)
2002 - 200 km/H in the Wrong Lane
2005 - Dangerous & Moving