Friday, October 06, 2006

Record Review: The Cardigans - Super Extra Gravity

I was right there with so many other American music buyers back in 1996. I drove to the mall and plunked down my hard-earned on “First Band on the Moon” by the Cardigans. Like the rest, I was lead there by “Lovefool” the big US single that was in the soundtrack to “Romeo + Juliet.” Once I had the record, however, I loved so many of the other tracks, such as “Been It,” “Heart Breaker,” “Choke,” and the cover of “Iron Man.” So here we are 10 years later and The Cardigans have just dropped their 6th record on the US. “Super Extra Gravity” was released in Europe last October, but just came to America this month. Damn Europeans get the jump on all the good shit these days.

I didn’t have too much in the way of expectations when I picked this record up, because I have been striking out of late. I only review a record on this blog when I think it is good, because there is already too much negative coverage of art. The last few I thought I would be writing about here didn’t meet my expectations. “Super Extra Gravity” did, however. Nina Persson has some wonderfully crafted lyrics on this record to go along with some very catchy beats from Drummer Bengt Lagerberg and Magnus Sveningsson on bass. The guitar Peter Svensson is inspired at times and down right sick at others. Add to this mix the multifaceted play of Lars-Olof Johnasson (best name in the music biz by the by) on both Keys and guitar and you have on hell of a record.

There are a few stand out tracks in my mind, including the songs that have been used as the singles in the EU: “I Need Some Fine Wine And You, You Need To Be Nicer” “Don’t Blame Your Daughter” and “Godspell.” My favorite tracks by far are “In the Round” and “Good morning Joan.” On the former a mid tempo drum line accompanied by Svensson’s axe lead into Persson’s sultry groove. She asks “When I’m done, please hang me high for everyone to see. ‘Cause I do my dance, in the round.” Her voice is perfect for Indie Rock, and no matter the content of her lyrics you can’t help like the way she sings. On “Good Morning Joan” I got a very Liz Phair feel, which I think is saying a lot. Like Liz, The Cardigans deal well with once being at the Indie forefront, but now having the guts to make the music they want to make. She opens the song singing to a friend, Joan, saying “Good morning Joan, no pick up your phone. It was bad, but just a dream, and you are remembered. Put on something city, go back to the city.” The song goes on to rhyme other friend’s names with lessons they have to teach, but somehow they aren’t trite. Eve – Sleeve, Louise – Freeze, Mary – Scary, all very simple but the song is playful and fun, with a wonder full message. “I’d call on you if I could. If you were less like me I would save you from this.”

All in all it is a great listen. The only track that sounded out of place was “Holy Love” and that was only because it sounds like a song that starts in the middle. The first notes of the song sound like the bridge to a chorus, but that is nitpicky. This is one of the best records I have picked up this year, and I have to say it is good work out of our Swedish friends.

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