The Cardigans' Nina Persson has one of the world's most gorgeous voices, and it continues to shine through on Long Gone Before Daylight, her band's fifth proper full-length.
The Swedish wonder can translate power, fragileness and sarcasm to perfection. On this particular occasion, she sways more melancholy than any girl who ever got her heart broken. The songs are tamer than those on the brilliant Gran Turismo from five years ago, focusing on a more folky unplugged feel rather than on snappy electronic beats.
During the intermission, Persson strayed to form A Camp, her collaboration with Mark Linkous from Sparklehorse. A Camp's eponymous debut was released in 2001. And that side project has definitely affected what tempo and tone Persson has settled into with her regular band. But the band doesn't benefit from A Camp's diverse arranging and playing. They pretty much come off as a bland background to Persson's vocals -- a pale imitation of themselves. Great moments, like "And Then You Kissed Me," evoke a mood powerfully, but not in the way previous albums have; they followed through a range of emotions, not just sadness.
The Cardigans asked some Swedish friends to help them record; Howlin' Pelle Almquist, the frontman of the Hives, Ebbot Lundberg of Soundtrack of Our Lives, and Nicke Royale of the Hellacopters all make an appearance. Each is a member of a rock band, and they have contributed to a very light, heart-drenched album.
Long Gone Before Daylight was originally released in April 2003 and recently re-released with a bonus DVD containing concert footage, a brief and fairly uninteresting interview and a few videos. It's a short addition without a lot of extras.
Surely the Cardigans will get their legs back on their next album. But hopefully fans won't have to wait another five years to hear Persson's crystal chords again.
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