The Cardigans

Super Extra Gravity

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The Cardigans gained the respect of listeners in the mid-'90s, not for the impossibly sunny triteness of their lyrics, but for the wonderful songs and productions that seemed to emanate from Malmo, Sweden, and the minds of the group's core trio: vocalist Nina Persson, songwriter Peter Svensson, and producer Tore Johansson. More than ten years after their debut, a few things had changed -- the lyrics were no longer sunnily trite but cynically trite, and the songs and productions were no longer so wonderful. Super Extra Gravity matches their previous record, Long Gone Before Daylight, for its dour mood and sour attitude, its lack of discernible hooks, and the unappetizing flavor of the Cardigans' performances. First of all, Persson's lyrics are eccentric and unconvincing. She may not have truly meant it when she sang, "Come on and love me now," a lyric from an early album, but she sang it like she meant it; here, on "Overload," she asks, "Baby dance with me," but sounds like it's the last thing on her mind. (Listeners are easily capable of appreciating irony, but they like to be allowed in on the joke.) Secondly, Svensson's songs are understated and drab. Those qualities could work if they were combined with the work of a gifted lyricist, but unfortunately that's not the case. Finally, Johansson's productions only occasionally allow a hint of brightness and color into the proceedings.

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