lunedì 18 gennaio 2010
The Cardigans "First Band on the Moon"
Arriva il succeso grazie all'adorabile "Lovefool" e tutto fila via alla perfezione, dolce come lo zucchero filato, ma leggero come una brezza sulla spiaggia...(1996 Island)
I Cardigans cambiarono radicalmente le loro tonalità malinconiche con altre più allegre con First Band on the Moon (Mercury, 1996), e questo li fece conoscere al grande pubblico, Lovefool segnava la quintessenza del loro kitsch barocco. Il resto dell'album era leggermente superiore allo standard della band (Your New Cuckoo). (Piero Scaruffi - http://www.scaruffi.com/)
They're from Jonkoping, Sweden, and if cocktail pop becomes the next musical fad, they will be the biggest band in the world in addition to being the first band on the moon. Or to have released an album called FIRST BAND ON THE MOON at any rate. The Cardigans play the sort of jazzy, immaculately-arranged, long out-moded music popular in cocktail lounges back in the '60s.
England's Mike Flowers pop (who took a cocktail pop version of an Oasis song into the British charts) and Japan's Pizzicato Five (who do songs with titles like "Twiggy Twiggy/Twiggy vs. James Bond") are contemporaries of the Cardigans... but they're less strange. One of the Cardigans' favourite movie is THE RETURN OF THE PINK PANTHER. They're influenced by old cartoon theme music. They do jazz-lite Black Sabbath covers or acapella Ozzy Osborne songs on their albums.
For FIRST BAND ON THE MOON, their third album, the Sabbath anthem of choice is "Iron Man," and hearing Nina Persson sing "ooooh, Iron Man" and then tag a string of boop-boop-be-boop beep-beep-de-beep's to tne end of the song is bound to strike a perverse chord in anybody's soul. If you've heard the original and find yourself grinning like a lunatic even as you sing along to the Cardigans' take on it, don't worry, you're not the only one.
The opinions of the founding fathers of heavy metal on these dubious tributes have yet to be recorded, but personally I'd like to hear Ozzy sing background harmony on the chorus of "Lovefool," the first single from this album, a song so unfeasibly bouncy and full of inane "love me love me" lyrics that it deserves to be a hit. Like "Rise and Shine" from their previous album, LIFE, it's the kind of song that's so chirpy it musically gives you it's happy-happy-joy-joy message irregardless of what the lyrics are. If you don't succumb, you are either Dr. Chee Soon Juan before the Special Privileges Committee, or are just having a really really bad day.
Most of the album, however, doesn't share with "Lovefool" it's bubbly optimism. Even though some of the songs on FIRST BAND ON THE MOON swing in the same carefree, sunshine-in-the-countryside way of those found on LIFE, the general swing is towards an uncharacteristic, even disturbing melancholia. The horns and flutes are still there and are as candy-sweet as ever, but the beat is less irrepressible, the melodies are moodier. "Heartbreaker" works in a dolorous Black Sabbath guitar to lines like "Lies make me feel fine although it is sad," and "Losers" plainly features characters who are "fucked up and annoying." "Choke" ends the album with "We'll never have the guts to discover/we'll choke on it and die...." Ugly.
Elsewhere, things are more cheerfully off-centre. Nina Persson seems to be up to some deliberate mischief when she sings on the "kinky thoughts I'm thinking all because of you" on "Happy Meal II," and on "Been It" she tells her "Baby boy... I've been your sister, I've been your mistress/Maybe I was your whore/Who can ask for more." Who can indeed.
These are lean days when angst instead of humour and creativity seems to be thought of as musically credible. Eccentricity which isn't a one-off novelty is something of a precious commodity, and a band whose members like Thin Lizzy, yet can't play rock n' roll, and who hail from a country where "the sun is so dark," yet come up with songs that are full of sunshine, is a veritable godsend. And anyway, who can ever have enough cocktail pop covers of Black Sabbath. Ladies and gents, have some pink soda pop in a champagne rummer and drink to the Cardigans. (Gerald Tan - http://gt.webvis.net/)
In this world of cookie-cutter, post-alternative bands, the Cardigans are fueled by a deep and abiding faith in novelty. The word kitsch has already earned a permanent place in most descriptions of this Swedish band, which is inevitable when the straw that stirs your particular lounge-pop drink is often a flute. The flute is an important part of the Cardigans' musical armory, as are the melodies of Black Sabbath, which they cover with alarming regularity. And in a radical break from Swedish tradition, the Cardigans' name doesn't begin with the letter A.
Yet with First Band on the Moon, their second U.S. album, the Cardigans prove to be more than the sum of their gimmicks. The music remains cotton-candy sweet, but vocalist Nina Persson and guitarist Peter Svensson temper the giddiness with strikingly downbeat songwriting. Persson is a coy, supercute bubblegum vocalist – Betty Boop meets Kirsty MacColl – but Persson's airy lack of affectation actually deepens her dark, romantic sentiments when she chirps cheerily about her status as a willingly deceived doormat in the hitworthy single "Lovefool" or commands "Tell me I'm good/I know I'm bad," in "Heartbreaker."
The Cardigans' busy orchestrations and quirky adornments drip with the fizz of '60s pop and cocktail jazz, but the group doesn't hide behind its cleverness. First Band on the Moon, with its insinuating melodies and carefully crafted, bittersweet fun, is truly sophisticated and irony-free, except for the Cardigans' take on that most iconographic of Sabbath anthems, "Iron Man." It's a thrill to hear Persson purr, "Heavy boots of lead/Fills his victims full of dread," over a Jim Hall-style jazz-guitar figure. But in the end it can never be anything but a joke. Especially if it gets released as a single. (Jason Cohen - http://www.rollingstone.com/)
- Your New Cuckoo
- Been It
- Happy Meal II
- Never Recover
- Step On Me
- Iron Man
- Great Divide