The Cardigans - Life

by Bob Coyne Rating: Release Date:1999-05-03

Statistics are a baffling thing. They tell us that Sweden enjoys Europe's highest standard of living and its highest suicide rate. Statistics also tell us that The Cardigans are the country's most successful musical export since Abba. This actually makes perfect sense, for the quintet's music is an uncannily accurate microcosm of the country that spawned it--deliciously breezy pop melodies lent just enough bite by Nina Persson's fatalistic vocals. It's a recipe they perfected with unnerving confidence on Life, which exhibits an instinctive familiarity with the pantheon of timeless pop. Burt Bacharach's shadow looms unmistakably over the pensive autumnal strains of "Celia Inside" and "Tomorrow", whilst fragrant indie-pop nuggets such as "Rise And Shine" and "Gordon's Gardenparty" suggest that guitarist/songwriter Peter Svensson spent more than the occasional evening learning his craft from old Smiths records. It is, of course, impossible to discuss intuitive 90s female-fronted pop acts without mentioning Saint Etienne. The appreciation, in this case, is mutual; so impressed were the Etienne with the airy pristine sound of Life, that they were inspired to record 1997's Good Humor in the same Malmo studios. --Peter Paphides

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