On Animal Heart, Nina Persson does everything an artist with a career as lengthy and varied as hers could, and should, do on a solo debut album. Arriving five years after the last A Camp album and nine years after the last Cardigans album, these songs blend the countrified reflection of her former project and the sparkling pop of the latter, presenting it all with a much more overtly personal outlook than Persson has ever presented before. That her voice has an endearingly weathered quality here, with a rasp and vibrato that humanize the almost too-perfectly crystalline tone she had in the '90s and 2000s, only adds to Animal Heart's confessional bent and gives much-needed grit to vulnerable yet strong songs like "Catch Me Crying" and "Burning Bridges for Fuel." However, she saves the traditional singer/songwriter piano balladry for last, closing the album with the beautifully intimate "This Is Heavy Metal," where she muses, "Still a little shaken/From pieces that were taken/I wonder if they ever were mine." Instead, she ponders the fine line between domestic bliss and claustrophobia on the deceptively mellow "Dreaming of Houses" and "Clip Your Wings," and delivers emotionally ambivalent electro-pop on the title track and "Food for the Beast," one of the most urgent-sounding songs Persson has recorded with any of her projects. Sometimes the mood threatens to become a little too navel-gazing, but Persson's light touch -- exemplified by the charming meditation on loss "Forgot to Tell You" and "The Grand Destruction Game," a playfully philosophical look at a long list of star-crossed love affairs -- ultimately makes these songs winning. Neither a denial nor a rehash of Persson's past, Animal Heart is a welcome reflection of her changing life and art.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares