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These days it's getting harder to tell the real pop twerps from the hip parodists--both of whom make music sweeter and more dizzying than cherry wine. Take Sweden's Cardigans, for example: On one hand, they work the same delicious Bacharach lounge jazz and gooey '60s girl swoons as Pizzicato Five, a group whose retrokitsch is delivered with a big, fake-eyelashed wink. On the other hand, the Cardigans come from a land that gave us Abba and Ace of Base, sincere pop legends if ever there were. The Cardigans, it seems, could go either way, and their subtle blend of pop-for-pop's-sake with pop-for-joke's-sake makes their first American release, Life, all the more a modernist gem.
There's no use digging below the surface of Life's amazingly catchy opening quartet of tunes. All the joy to be extracted lies right on the surface: "Carnival"'s loopy organ and punchy beat is all cotton candy and merry-go-rounds; "Daddy's Car" is a fun-fun-fun ride to the up-up-and-away; "Fine" soars heavenward while "Rise & Shine" is mile-a-minute perk-me-up. From there, though, "Our Space" ventures deeper, into darker and moodier atmospherics and a trip-hoppy electronic shuffle. Singer Nina Persson's crystalline lullaby voice keeps it all sounding innocent as hell, but when she sinks her candy-coated teeth into a Black Sabbath cover ("Sabbath Bloody Sabbath") she exposes a few sinister cavities. By the time she closes the album, exulting "No one can be happier than me!" the effect is eerie enough for David Lynch. With Life, the Cardigans give us pop till it hurts. --Roni Sarig
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Top Customer Reviews
The Swedes chose to divert the bad side of life and prefer to sing mostly about the small little details that make life as great as it is : a ride with friends , a lover's kiss , a walk at a beach nearby . Even a heartbrake ( " After All " ) is delivered here with such a tender sadness which is impossible to characterise as let's say ,depressing . From the genuin melancholy of " Sick and Tired " to the daydreaming of " Carnival " , everything here flows naturally and stands out for it's well-crafted pop complexion .
Having covered the distance between carefree pop to electronica in less than four years , The Cardigans are now exploring different paths of today's music reality . For someone who's not familiar with their early work , " Life " might come as a pleasant shock . Discover the early Cardigans and embrace this album's virtues .
In a nutshell, the songs on this album range from bouncy (Carnival, Fine, Rise and Shine, Hey! Get Out of My Way, and Happy Meal) to loungy (Gordon's Garden Party, Daddy's Car, Our Space, Celia Inside, Over the Water) and mix of both (Tomorrow, Sick and Tired, Beautiful One, Sabbeth Bloody Sabbeth). My lack of music terminology really can't do this album justice. So in plain English, this album is really great and... it deserves way more than 5 stars. The Cardigans are just the right combination of everything that works toward making a great band and an album. If you don't own a copy yet, buy it now.
Carnival: Turn to this song if you want to be reminded of the spirit of young love and fun, this song's carnival will have you smiling in seconds.
Our Space: Venture into the unknown, and let the lounge vibes be your vehicle and Nina your guide. This song is strange but emits great feelings.
Celia Inside: This cheery song, especially nice with the echo effect is perfect for a rainy day.
Tomorrow: Perhaps one of my favorite songs, I am filled with feelings of happiness whenever I hear it.
Hey! Get Out of my Way: This song about dumping an old boyfriend is cheery, not depressing, despite its subject matter.
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath: This one's especially good if you're angry at someone, because it takes away your aggression without violence etc.
Perhaps it's Nina's beautiful, soft voice, or maybe the frosted-sugar lounge vibes, but something about this album fills you with good feelings. All I can say is, I couldn't live without it.
This CD is just brimming with an innocent joy that is as infectious as it is melodically brilliant. Just try to resist tapping your toes to "Carnival" or "Tomorrow", and it's hard to quell the urge to sing along with the delightful chorus of "Daddy's Car".
This is one of very few great pop albums. The atmosphere of the album is great, but don't take this to mean that the musicians aren't talented: one only needs to hear "Sick & Tired" for some great guitar work. A listen to "Tomorrow" will garner you with some of the best drum work of a band today. And on "Carnival", lead singer Nina's Persson's voice is taken to a whole new level of feeling, apart from her normal whisper.
This album is sheer genius. Credit also goes to the Cardigans for "Our Space" a trippy, and thoughtful song that revels in Nina's minimalist voice. The kitsch of "Gordon's Gardenparty" is wonderfully shameless.
DEFINITELY worth your time and money.
This album has the ability to kill my anger. Everytime I'm in a bad mood, I put this record on the stereo and just listen to it until that anger is slowly melted away by Nina's powerful, angelic and oh, so sweet, sweet voice. Who in this world will not be charmed by this girl? Roberto Benigni is right, LIFE is beautiful. After listening to it, I feel very happy that I feel every organ in my body is moving!
That this album hasn't reached every individual is "A terrible mistake!" There is a need to play this record more often for everyone to discover the beauty of LIFE. Come to think of it, if this CD were to be played on warring nations, could the combatants just drop their arms and hug each other?
Alright, it's closing time and a well known fact is that life is very short. So brothers and sisters, let us rise and shine to the occasion and make LIFE the soundtrack of our life!
Most recent customer reviews
In Japan there was a BOOM which called "SWEDISH POP BOOM".This band was one of the most famous acts.When the BOOM was over,the PRESS began to forget this band. Read morePublished on July 6 2004 by Sound Profiler
There isn't one false note in this brilliant CD. It can be classified as happiness in compact disc form. Read morePublished on June 30 2004 by fairyathena
Every song on this record is good. No filler. I remember when it came out years ago seeing the video for Carnival. Later the Cardigans had a hit w/ Lovefool. A perfect record. Read morePublished on June 18 2004
i remember seeing the carnival video on mtv's 120 minutes back in the day. it really was so much different than most the other stuff getting airplay that night. Read morePublished on Sept. 28 2003 by mellowgold
There's so much more to the Cardigans than "Lovefool", and on their second release "Life" they really create campy silly fun pop perfection. Read morePublished on Aug. 29 2003 by Vilbs
I usually listen to harder stuff like Tool or System of a Down but the Cardigans are a precious exception. I first heard of them when they released Carnival. Read morePublished on April 16 2003 by E. Reeves
From cars (Volvo & Saab) to music, Sweden has it all. The Cardigans, the best easy-listening pop band I've ever heard. Read morePublished on May 16 2002 by Luis Mateos
BUY THE JAPANESE VERSION W/C HAS ONLY 11 SONGS BUT BETTER THAN THE US AND EURO RELEASE. HEY! GET OUT OF MY WAY IS BETER HERE.Published on July 10 2001 by Adrian
This is a bubbly candy-coated album that started as a themed joke by the Cardigans. I was embarrassed to listen to such sugary music at first but I got over it. Read morePublished on Nov. 13 2000 by kiwi
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