A Camp breathes new life into the career of the Cardigans' Nina Persson. Recorded partly in New York and partly in Sweden, and produced almost entirely by Sparklehorse's Mark Linkous with a great deal of engineering help and instrument swapping from Shudder to Think's Nathan Larson, A Camp sparkles with country twang and lush orchestration. Many of the songs have been reworked from original recordings Persson made with producer Niclas Frisk. Persson saw those recordings as being too dark and depressed, so she approached Linkous with a plan to brighten the mood and tone of the songs. Having previously cited Linkous as her dream producer, it's clear that Persson is in fine spirits throughout the recording. The included CD-ROM video for "I Can Buy You" shows Persson brimming with content during the recording process and taking time out for Tetris, target practice, and basketball. For the most part, A Camp straddles a pop country sound that recalls the work of Lee Hazlewood, Dusty Springfield, and Wilco. Brill Building polish and country swagger rarely blend together with this much grace. "I Can Buy You" couldn't be more sublime, especially when Persson seductively sing-hums "oh yeah, oh yeah." Two other highlights are "Song for the Leftovers," with its cute, touching lyrics and background trumpets, and the Paul Westerberg cover "Rock 'n' Roll Ghost," where Persson sweetly punctuates all the right lyrics with compelling abandon. Most of the album concerns relationships and love, and Persson is quite jubilant with the subject matter, especially with her beau, Larson, working right alongside her. Larson and Linkous are both credited with a huge list of instruments, including orchestrons, chamberlins, magic genie organ, jupiters, theremins, optigans, and mellotrons. They craft a bubbly, effortless sound that fits perfectly with Persson's tender vocals. With so much of the Cardigans' later work taking on aggressive rock overtones, A Camp is a charming return to basic songcraft and a collaboration that will hopefully bear more fruit in the future.
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AllMusic Review by Tim DiGravina