"Fuck Cool, Melody Rules!" is a Logical Fallacy. This album is a never-ending fountain of musical youth to which I keep returning for perpetual replenishment. Because it never fails to revive the flagging spirits. When I think about how bitterly cold it is outside right now, I remind myself that these folks come from a land where it's usually twice this cold, plus pitch fucking dark half the year to boot. And did that prevent them from constructing one of the most brilliantly conceived arranged and executed pop albums of the last quarter century (<-- to put an arbitrary date delimiter on it -- though i'd just as soon tag this shit "timeless"). Answer: No. It did not prevent them from being sweetly sublime. So quit your bitching and step up to the plate.
rocky says: got this album for free to review for claudia's homotiller zine the year it came out stateside (1996). Oh, and I wanted to be such a hater. Too bad for me that it's charms were and are thoroughly irresistible. I have bought this at least four times since, to convert similar haters, or simply as nice cocktail party gifts. imho, like a crazy christian, i think that every life is impoverished without Life.
allmusic: One of the most pleasing pop groups of the '90s, the Cardigans specialized in sugary confections that would grow annoying very quickly if they weren't backed by solid musicianship and clever arrangements.
The band's 1995 breakout album, Life, reflected the Cardigans at their most saccharine — the sunny disposition of vocalist Nina Persson being the major argument in favor — and critics inserted the group into the space age pop revivalist camp.
The Cardigans later proved that they were more difficult to pigeonhole, however. Even the band's origins showed that their later appearance was quite misleading; two heavy metal fanatics formed the group in October 1992 in Jonkoping, Sweden. Guitarist Peter Svensson met bassist Magnus Sveningsson in a hardcore group, though he had previously trained in music theory and jazz arranging.
The two later grew tired of metal and decided to form a pop band with vocalist Nina Persson — an art-school friend who had never sung professionally — plus keyboard player Lars-Olof Johansson and drummer Bengt Lagerberg. All five Cardigans moved into a small apartment in 1993 and began recording a demo tape that entered the hands of producer Tore Johansson later that year. He liked what he heard and invited the group to record at his Malmö studio. Signed to the dance-oriented Stockholm label, the Cardigans released Emmerdale in May 1994.
The single "Rise & Shine" became a hit on Swedish radio soon after the release of the LP, and a readers poll in Sweden's Slitz magazine voted Emmerdale the best album of 1994.
The Cardigans spent the last half of 1994 touring Europe and recording their second album. A satirical response to their moody debut, Life showed the band at their most upbeat, including an angelic picture of Persson in an ice-skating outfit for the cover. Released in March 1995 — with several re-recordings of songs from Emmerdale — the album eventually sold one and a half million copies worldwide and became especially popular in Japan, where it achieved platinum status.
A deal with Minty Fresh gave the Cardigans an American release of Life in spring 1996, and the group played eight sold-out shows in the U.S. that summer. The American major labels began to notice the attention, and Mercury signed them soon after.
[and that's when it all went south]