The Cardigans – Gran Turismo

The Cardigans - Gran TurismoOnce upon a time, it seems like I reviewed an earlier, and extremely popular, album by the Cardigans, and was kinda harsh about it. Didn’t mind the music, but I was even less crazy about the lyrics. I’m not here to say “I changed my mind, I take it back,” but I will fess up that the Cardigans have, perhaps, improved.

Gran Turismo takes the group’s sparse sound into darker territory across the board. This may sound like no big deal, but the effect is amazing – the new sound suits them a whole lot better than the old, and nowhere is this more evident than in Nina Persson’s biting vocals. She still has an angelic, innocent thing going on with her voice, but if ever I got the mental picture of hearing someone sneering while singing, I got it listening to Gran Turismo. More than a few of the lyrics are about screwed-up relationships or surviving them, and there’s a bitter edge to the vocals that simply wasn’t there in earlier material like “Lovefool”. Nor is there anything like “Lovefool”‘s doormat-ish feel – there’s no pleading for someone to “love me, love me, fool me, fool me”; the “character” in some of these song lyrics is not happy about how things have gone. I could see Gran Turismo as a “break-up album.”

Standouts include “New Beginning”, “Hang Around”, the outstanding “Erase/Rewind” (aptly used in the end credits of the Rating: 3 out of 4movie The Thirteenth Floor, and the primary reason I decided to give the Cardigans another try), and the hit single of the piece, “My Favourite Game”. Much of the best material comes early on if you listen to it straight through – there’s a definite sense of the album losing steam by the end. But this new direction for the Cardigans suits them completely – it’s a sound they’re more than capable of pulling off, and I hope they stick with it.

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  1. Paralyzed (4:59)
  2. Erase / Rewind (3:40)
  3. Explode (4:06)
  4. Starter (3:55)
  5. Hanging Around (3:45)
  6. Higher (4:34)
  7. Marvel Hill (4:16)
  8. My Favourite Game (3:40)
  9. Do You Believe (3:21)
  10. Junk Of The Hearts (4:10)
  11. Nil (2:15)

Released by: Polygram
Release date: 1998
Total running time: 42:41