From the time I first heard it, I hated “Lovefool.” I counted it one of those unbearably catchy tunes that tends to get stuck in your brain for ages of unrelenting torture.
Fortunately, one day someone made me listen to the Cardigans’ albums Life and First Band on the Moon. And “Lovefool” notwithstanding, I became an instant convert, quickly spreading the word among my friends with the fervor of a missionary among pagans.
I almost like “Lovefool” today. It helped that I discovered the beautiful Puck version of “Lovefool,” which I find vastly superior to the album version.
Anyway, I’m here to talk about the new Cardigans album, Long Gone Before Daylight. It is a clear departure from the bleak trip-hop/pop of their last album, Gran Turismo. But it’s not an erase/rewind back to the whimsical groove-pop of their early career.
In Long Gone Before Daylight, the Cardigans once again take a new tack with country- and folk-tinged pop songs, all of which seem to deal with love. Not happy or sappy love, however. Nina Persson has penned a notebookful of sad lyrics for this outing.
But the album isn’t terribly sad. It’s sweet yet melancholy. It conjures the sensation of walking through a lonely but picturesque landscape.
Nina Persson’s glassy, fluid voice is both warmly expressive and coolly restrained — a feat that’s most apparent in songs like “And Then You Kissed Me,” a dark tale of domestic violence sung in the style of a romantic ballad.
Other standouts are “Communication,” “You’re the Storm,” “Feathers & Down,” and the first single, “For What It’s Worth.” And though it’s a bit repetitive, I love the plaintive last song, “No Sleep,” Nina Persson’s lullaby to the world.
And though some songs are not as memorable or interesting, there are really no awful tracks. It’s a great album of beautiful music. Some early Cardigans fans may not forgive them for trying a more radio-friendly approach here. I too miss their old sound, which feels more submerged in Long Gone Before Daylight. But I think the new album remains a worthy effort, and if it brings the Cardigans a commercial success they haven’t seen since “Lovefool,” that would be wonderful and well-deserved.
My only disappointment is that Nina Persson still sports the black hair she wore on A Camp, her solo project with members of Sparklehorse. I have nothing against dark-haired girls… it’s just that to me Nina Persson was the epitome of the cool and beautiful Swedish blonde. Some things just shouldn’t change.