Nina Persson's A Camp project debuted in 2001 with a convincingly countrified record. It featured production by Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, and songs from Persson that accentuated her bright singing personality and meaningful lyrics. It not only succeeded on its own terms, but also proved a charming antidote to the increasingly poisonous records from Persson's main band, the Cardigans, during the 2000s. Unfortunately, the project languished during the rest of the decade, until another Cardigans break when Persson wrote the songs that form 2009's Colonia. Produced with fellow Swede Niclas Frisk and her husband, Nathan Larson (a film composer and former guitarist for Shudder to Think), Colonia naturally deals with colonialism, that thorny issue that modernity continually thinks is behind it until it rears its ugly head again, usually in a slightly different form. Persson seems to have some issues with the modern world in general, and America particularly, most of which she funnels through the solid relationship songs she's written since the Cardigans debuted in the early '90s. "Here Are Many Wild Animals" reads like an expedition into the deepest heart of Africa until Persson reaches the chorus, with "Ooo -- they're dropping the bomb," and the lines "Come little bastard, come little millionaire/Come, come faster, this is America." On "Chinatown," she yokes the comforting past to the uncertain present, "Read my fortune in my MetroCard" (which would be more effective if Persson didn't recall the Jack Nicholson film when she sings "This is Chinatown"). Her songs and performances are indeed effective, and the production from all three members of A Camp are in the vein of classic pop of the '60s and '70s, with threads connecting everything from the girl groups to art rock. Colonia may share with the Cardigans' late records that polished yet entirely too comfortable sound that reveals few insights, but it deftly presents Persson's uncomfortable vision of a world with little left to hold onto.
by John Bush