CD Review: The Cardigans, "Gran Turismo"

Guilty Pleasures: Shameful albums we love to revel in.

By Samantha Nwaoshai
On May 14, 2005

When you think of The Cardigans, you might think of the party scene in the Baz Lurhmann version of William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, where you first hear "Lovefool." The song just sticks with you through out the entire scene. It's hard not to get that song stuck in your head. The catchy melody, the desperation of the lyrics and the sweetness of Nina Persson's vocals tinged with so much irony and perfection. It's a song that you secretly love and openly hate. "Lovefool" propelled The Cardigan's album First Band on the Moon into mainstream success.

After the success of First Band on the Moon, The Cardigan's follow-up Gran Turismo went to a much darker place. Gone was the happiness and sugary sound, and in comes the melancholy. It's like Garbage circa Version 2.0 meets Air circa the Virgin Suicides soundtrack and Gran Turismo is their sonic lovechild. Outside of the album's first single "My Favorite Game" being a mediocre hit, it basically flopped commercially. This is not to say that the album wasn't good, it was great. The change in sound from pure pop to trip-hop was unexpected and not well received.

Perrson's voice remains ethereal, but she is not the peppy, espresso-high girl saying "love me, love me, love me." No, she is not asking to be fooled this time around. She knows better and lyrically offers more insight. For instance, on the track "Do You Believe," she utters "do you really think / that love is gonna save your soul? / well I don't think so."

One of the most underrated songs on the album has to be the surreal ballad "Higher." The tone is downhearted and you find yourself feeling for Perrson when she sings "we'll make it of here... oh, yeah." You think "yes we will Nina Perrson." The song is both lyrically and sonically haunting.

Other tracks on Gran Turismo that you should take the time to listen to are "Junk of the Hearts," "Hanging Around" and "Marvel Hill."

This is just one of those stories where the band is cool underground, does a catchy song, goes mainstream, grow and lose the mainstream audience they once had. It's the realization of every artist's worst nightmare. Gran Turismo is a truly underrated album and really deserved a chance to prove itself. This is definitely one of the occasions where change is good.

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