Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Cardigans - Overload

Having admitted to themselves, possibly, that they will never ever top "Lovefool", a song they don't even like particularly, repeated changes in direction have paid off pretty well for The Cardigans, artistically, and at least in Scandinavia, commercially.

So the fact that their new album is very much in the same vein as their last could be a bad thing, but they've refined the formula. As such, "Overload" is in the running to be probably the second best song they've ever done (well, it's a close run thing with "Paralyzed" and "Lead Me Into The Night" for my money, but anyway). I'm fascinated by Nina Persson's delivery, how she manages to take what is on paper for the most part a hugely romantic lyric, pace it as a slow dance, which is also kind of romantic, and sing it as if she's just had the stuffing beaten completely out of her - ennuied, bruised and helpless, despite the fact that she's a pretty girl in a successful band who in real life surely wouldn't have to put up with any shit from a beau.

It's good acting. And it's a wonderful song. The slightly incongruous middle section is what fascinates me the most. The music almost cuts out before being replaced by some comparatively charging guitars while Nina sings "I'm hot, baby don't burn your finger", and where, say, Robyn would have sung that line as some kind of salacious come-on (viz Konichiwa Bitches), it's rueful and lamenting, and leaves me wondering if she's not more worried about hurting someone than being hurt herself.

She resignedly requests her paramour "Dance me home", after having declared that "True love is to dance" - but she's only learning. It's the sound of a woman pouring herself out of the frying pan into the fire, but it wouldn't be if it weren't such a sterling, felt vocal performance, which make the backing seem almost inconsequential. But it's worth listening for that too, the mix of the sweet and sour has returned, and if you throw in a music box or a flute to add to the arrangement in your head, you can almost believe that this is the same band that once did saccharine but lovingly sarcastic songs like Carnival and Hey! Get Out Of My Way.

I heartily recommend the album, which is out in Europe this week.


At 1:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Edward, another comment about one of your comments (we may just have the same taste!)... I discovered 'I need a fine wine and you, you need to be nicer' while I was in UK/Europe on hols in October and loved it... bought the album when I got back to home to Australia and it is still top of the playlist on my ipod! Enjoyed your commentary on it as per the discussion of PSB covers! :)jeremygodwin@iprimus.com.au

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