The Cardigans - First Band On The Moon - Classic Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Cardigans - First Band On The Moon

by James Weiskittel Rating:10 Release Date:1996-09-17
The Cardigans - First Band On The Moon
The Cardigans - First Band On The Moon

When The Cardigans’ infectious brand of indie-fied lounge-pop caught commercial fire in the Fall of 1996 via the irresistibly infectious hit “Lovefool”, fans who flocked to stores to purchase the band’s third album First Band On The Moon (as opposed to the soundtrack for Baz Luhrmann's DiCaprio-led Romeo & Juliet) quickly discovered that the album's genius first single was merely the tip of a much larger iceberg.

Having honed their sound over the course of two prior releases, the Swedish five-piece (featuring vocalist Nina Persson, guitarist Peter Svensson, bassist Magnus Sveningsson, drummer Bengt Lagerberg, and keyboardist Lars-Olof Johansson) managed to coalesce a myriad of disparate sounds into a perfectly crafted gem of a pop record. From the first few notes of the cheerfully upbeat album-opening “Your New Cuckoo”, the band takes listeners on an unforgettable ride. While the Cardigans previous output was clearly the work of a band stretching to define itself beyond the confines of the metal scene that their homeland was most often associated with, First Band On The Moon is ripe with confidence. The band had clearly hit their stride; every left-turn feels like a carefree jaunt as opposed to a deliberate sidestep.

The saccharine-laced “Been It”, the fluffy-cloud escapades of “Heartbreaker” and “Happy Meal II”, and the punk-rocking “Never Recover” cap off what is an incredibly satisfying, albeit somewhat schizophrenic, opening salvo. The arena-ready anthem “Step On Me” crashes headfirst into the aforementioned “Lovefool”. The fact that the band’s crossover single is seven tracks deep is a testament to the depth of the songwriting on First Band On The Moon.

In any other context, a laid-back, acid-tinged cover of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” would be the kind of sacred-cow-tipping that is destined to play like an inside-joke that no-one but the band gets, but in the hands of the Cardigans, the dreadfully over-played metal-anthem is given a new lease of life. The record closes with the fuzzed-out ode to the missed opportunity that is “Choke”, a song that finds Perrson turning in one of her most confident vocals while delivering what is perhaps the record’s most poignant lyric: “We’ll never have the guts to discover...We’ll choke on it and die."

While the Cardigans would continue to defy expectations with future releases (the follow-up Gran Turismo might actually be a more complete album from start to finish), nowhere was the impact of their cheerfully nuanced sound greater than amid the backdrop of the flannel-clad doom and gloom that was the mid-90’s. First Band On The Moon is perhaps best summed up as just what the mid-90’s needed: a breath of fresh air.

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Could not agree more. This one is a gem and so irresistible...

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