by Warren Buchholz –
The Cardigans helped bring back that 1960s space age European pop music sound with their album First Band on the Moon back in ‘96. We’re talking about classy yet modern sounds from a collection of synths, guitars, and percussions that reinvigorated the mid-nineties before the sudden and massive wave of boy bands and Britney Spears. Considering the band’s from Sweden, I can’t expect any less from the European feel to it. In an ocean of American pop, it was a welcomed change. I remember hearing this kind of music on the radio when I was little, and the great times of playing with friends and going out grocery shopping with mom.
This set of songs is soothing, and they cover a spectrum of emotion ranging from happy/bright to melancholic/strange tunes. Some of these songs could fit perfectly into a psychological thriller soundtrack like with what King Black Acid and Low did with The Mothman Prophecies. I still cannot believe the depth of some of the songs on here, and there’s something eerie yet calming about the cover of Sabbath’s “Iron Man”, “Great Divide” and “Step on Me” that combines the lounge age with that ‘90s pop sound. Even the hip and popular single “Lovefool” was paired with the melancholic gritty version of Romeo and Juliet starring a very young Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Dames.
Nina Persson has a voice you cannot forget, and it makes First Band on the Moon fuller in sound. I don’t think these songs could have worked with another voice at the helm. That I’m thankful for.
The Cardigans is one of those bands that can create bright pop sounds on the surface, but when you begin to dig deep, you find there’s more to the music than originally perceived. I think that’s why I’m attached to this album–not solely due to the nostalgia of the ‘90s, but also because the music isn’t as shallow as expected from most pop groups of that era. At the end of the day, I can listen to the album on repeat and not get tired of it, and that makes for good music.