Super Extra Gravity
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2006, Volume 13, #11
Written by John Metzger
After a six-year hiatus from recording, The Cardigans returned in 2004 with Long Gone Before Daylight. Most striking about the album was that the band finally had ditched the last vestiges of the sugary arrangements that had clung to its music since its U.S. breakthrough Life. On its latest endeavor Super Extra Gravity, the groupís transformation is made complete. Throughout the effort, the ensemble continues to traffic in murky textures and self-destructive lyrics, and, as if to emphasize the connection between its two recent outings, it concludes the set with a sequel to And Then You Kissed Me, a dark tale of a dysfunctional relationship.
The difference, however, is that on Super Extra Gravity, The Cardigansí music has become decidedly more turbulent, aggressive, and angry, even as the outfit returns to the pop-imbued melodies of its early work. The opening track Losing a Friend, for example, is bathed in a melancholy air, but as the song progresses, its Beatle-esque intonations increasingly are immersed in the sort of atmospheric noise that is worthy of Radiohead. Equally strong are Godspell and And Then You Kissed Me II, on which buzzing guitars nip at the heels of the formerís Liz Phair-meets-Pretenders melody, while the ominously anguished cries of front woman Nina Persson make the latterís emotional context more palpable.
Unfortunately, the rest of Super Extra Gravity doesnít fare nearly as well. It seems that, in spite of The Cardigansí arty attempts to add some sonic heft to its material, much of the set still sounds stiff and forced. Although the grandly orchestrated Donít Blame Your Daughter (Diamonds) and the bass-driven groove of In the Round are pleasant enough, the album too frequently slips toward the overly arranged, mainstream-minded musings of Sheryl Crow (I Need Some Fine Wine and You, You Need to Be Nicer), Brandi Carlile (Overload), and worse, Pat Benatar (Drip Drop Teardrop). Consequently, the bandís bid to subvert conventional pop standards succumbs to a different brand of mediocrity, and after six studio albums and 14 years, it immediately is apparent that The Cardigans has yet to determine what kind of act it truly wants to be. Ĺ
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box