Back in 1998, a Swedish band known mostly for a cutesy hit which did really well internationally proved that they weren’t just one-hit-wonders and had a bit more cool stuff for us all to check out.
I’m talking, of course, about The Cardigans.
Yeah, you remember them. For a while there, you couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing one of their few big tunes. Their fourth album Gran Turismo did really well and saw the band go in a darker, moodier direction.
The big hits on the album include “Erase/Rewind”, which was played in a couple of movies at the time, namely the underrated The Thirteenth Floor and the Drew Barrymore chick flick Never Been Kissed. It’s a moody, moody, memorable hit with attitude, a killer chorus and a cool build-up. The other hit on Gran Turismo is “My Favourite Game”, the first single to be released from the album. It’s a very cool, catchy, fun song and the most energetic of the bunch. It does deserve the praise it received at the time and boasts a nice video also.
The album opens on whistling followed by a slow beat and finally a dark melody with a modern James Bond theme vibe to it. The song is “Paralyzed” and it works pretty well as a prelude to “Erase/Rewind” which comes next. Then we have another slow song ironically called “Explode”. It picks up eventually and develops into an enjoyable “Stairway To Heaven”-style melody. Singer Nina Persson’s vocals are especially good here despite the whole “explode/implode” chorus not quite reaching the catchy highs of the song preceding it.
Song number 4, “Starter”, fits it nicely with the moody/cool tone of the album but doesn’t stand out too much. It’s got a good guitar riff, though. “Hanging Around” is the fifth song and, although it’s got the right amount of attitude and a solid build-up, it’s a little messy and overall underwhelming, mostly due to the forgettable chorus.
“Higher” is a gloomier effort, sweet chorus aside, but it’s a pretty song nonetheless. It’s followed by an eclectic, more downbeat and experimental track called “Marvel Hill” which feels more like a Bjork effort than something The Cardigans would come up with. The song has its ok moments but, as a whole, it’s unfortunately a bit dull. Duller than it should have been, anyway.
After “My Favourite Game”, the album loses pace a tad with the repetitive, not so well written “Do You Believe”, the ever-so-slightly whiny and samey ballad “Junk Of The Hearts” and, finally, the instrumental non-event epilogue that is “Nil”.
Back in the day, it was good to see The Cardigans try something a bit grungier and this album, as imperfect as it was, showed that this really was the right direction for the band to take. Persson’s sweet, high-pitched voice working in perfect contrast with those moodier, more electronic tracks.
Gran Turismo just needed a bit more energy and consistency.
Overall, I give it 3 Happy Cobains out of 5.