There’s something missing from Super Extra Gravity and I can’t tell what it is. Nina Persson’s coy and sultry voice is still ever present, but it sounds as if someone’s killed her puppy. The songwriting of Peter Svensson changed dramatically with their last album, Long Gone Before Daylight, from the saccharine sweet cheekiness of their first few albums to a dour and morose mosaic that finds his tongue out of his cheek and stuck out at the world. Being a Cardigans fan since their 1995 album, Life, it turns out that what was actually missing from this album was the Cardigans.
Super Extra Gravity is the perfect title for this Swedish band’s sixth proper full-length. Every song is so weighed down with pathos that you find it hard to pick yourself up off the floor. If sadness is contagious, then Super Extra Gravity could start an epidemic. I’m usually the one vociferously calling for music to be released in the states at the same time as internationally, but it turns out there was a reason that American labels waited two years before picking this album up. Plus, the album wasn’t even released by an American label, instead relying on the Canadians to distribute it. It’s as if Big Brother caught the Cardigans, forced them into reeducation camps, and had the Orbit ‘fresh mouth’ sucked right out of them.
Some of the lyrics even reflect the newfound dourness and don’t even attempt to hide the change. “Drip Drop Teardrop” (and how’s that for truth in advertising) displays the lyrics, “I’m gonna sing â€˜til you hate this song.” When Persson sings in “I Need Some Fine Wine and You, You Need to Be Nicer,” “To the good times that we shared and that the bad times that we’ll have,“ she might as well be talking about the body of work of the Cardigans. This new album makes the Cardigans’ earlier work seem even bubblier than it already was. Hell, it makes Long Gone Before Daylight sound like Raffi!
“Little Black Cloud” might as well be a cover of Winnie the Pooh’s classic, “I’m Just a Little Black Rain Cloud,” for all its dourness. But while Pooh had hope eternal for fooling some honeybees and gaining a snack, despite its lyrics, “Little Black Cloud” seems deprived of hope. All of the songs on Super Extra Gravity are devoid of hooks, charm and light. And while that seemed to work for Nine Inch Nails (although I would argue that he still had hooks), it doesn’t work at all for the Cardigans.
The Cardigans are a band that is growing up, and as they do so, they may want to distance themselves from their sugary pop beginnings. What they’re forgetting is that we loved them, loved them. So, even if Persson and Svensson are sad sacks at this point in their lives, disappointed by fame and relationships, all I can ask is that you fool me, fool me, because, Nina, I don’t care about anyone but you.
Garbage- Bleed Like Me
The Sundays- Static & Silence
The Cranberries- To the Faithful Departed