Nina Persson: Animal Heart
Don’t get me wrong, “Lovefool” is one of my all-time favorite songs. But The Cardigans had so much more to offer us. With the intricate chamber-pop of Life, the goth-rock of Gran Turismo and the alt-country of Long Gone Before Daylight, the Cardigans had an eclectic career held together by top-notch songwriting and Nina Persson’s distinct and evocative vocals. It’s her brilliance that makes “Lovefool” so great. Saccharine on the surface, but heartbroken at the core, she carried that presence throughout the Cardigans’ career and on her albums with A Camp. On her first solo album, Animal Heart, Persson shows the same knack for emotionally layered vocal performances.
This time around, Persson co-writes with her former A Camp partner Nathan Larson and Fruit Bats’ Eric D. Johnson. The subtlety of the instrumental arrangements found on The Cardigans’ albums is surely missed here, but, for the most part, the songwriting is on-par. While there are a few forgettable tracks (“The Grand Destruction Game”), there is also some of Persson’s strongest and most mature work to date. Indeed, closing track “This Is Heavy Metal” is likely the most remarkable melody of her career. Accompanied by just a piano, the song captures Persson at her most pure and sublime moment. While there is certainly no “Lovefool” on Animal Heart, the album perfectly captures what Persson does best: craft great pop songs with an almost unparalleled emotional depth.