Zoheir Beig

13:58 3rd October 2005

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There was a time when The Cardigans were a ubiquitous presence on the nation’s pop radar: their gorgeous, sleek guitar gems were all over radio, in the heads of magazine readers, soundtracking teen tragedies, Playstation racing games, and making the girls and boys swooningly dance many years before ‘Take Me Out’ was barely a staggered riff in Alex Kapranos’ brain. Then something happened. It was a full five years between 1998’s 2.5million selling ‘Gran Turismo’ and it’s follow-up, the critically acclaimed ‘Long Gone Before Daylight’. Where their records before were all shiny and (on the surface at least) cheeringly throwaway, ‘Long Gone…’ was decidedly more mature. Adjectives like ‘timeless’ and ‘organic’ were thrown about; it was the best album of their career, despite not being as popular as before.
Which neatly brings Gigwise to the present. We find ourselves in a plush west-London hotel, holding court with bassist Magnus Sveningsson. The Cardigans are back with ‘Super Extra Gravity’, that on a sample listen sounds like a pleasing cross between the last two albums: back come glistening chart-hugging tunes, framed by the spontaneous song-writing ethic of ‘Long Gone…’ (and a song title of the year contender in first single ‘I Need Some Fine Wine And You, You Need To Be Nicer’). As Magnus describes, it takes inspiration from Pixies, Sonic Youth (“where they have lost their guitar boxes somewhere so they’ve played soft”), The Velvet Underground, Dusty Springfield, and even ‘Blue Velvet’, which was Magnus’ choice: “When I mention that, people get the same kind of vision in their heads hopefully, you see Dennis Hopper with the gas Cardigansmask, and Roy Orbison with that big 50s ballad sound and then people are “yeah, let’s try that!””

Gigwise quizzes the goateed Swede on the album’s songwriting process. “Peter (Svensson, guitarist) was sending his demos on MP3s, that was like very 2005. We downloaded them onto our iPods, and we’d listen to them before we came down. Nina was writing, I think she got a little stressed because of the short time, and so she got help from her husband Nathan (Larson, American film composer)”
A radiant Nina Persson confirms this when she arrives a few minutes later with Peter. Dragging personal black suitcases they apologise sincerely, and Gigwise is charmed. Taking her place on the leather sofa she says: “Maybe it’s the fact I will always feel stressed, regardless of how much time I have! But I did feel stressed, like time pressure. Creatively it wasn’t that hard, it was just that I had to get things done”

‘Super Extra Gravity’ also sees the return of long-term producer Tore Johansson, after ‘creative differences’ meant he was absent during ‘Long Gone…’s recording. Magnus: “We borrowed a friend of ours’ rehearsal space, but there was no toilet there, so we were playing along, and then eventually all of us had to go pee. We’d walk like a bunch of Lemmings, all in a line, over to this studio, called the Yellow Studio, which was just two blocks away, and they had a bathroom. So we got in there, used the bathroom, and then Tore was there! We were like “umm…shall we give it one more try?”” So the call of nature brought the two camps back together? “Sort of, yeah” laughs Magnus, “the call of the bladder. Is it called bladder?”
For a long time The Cardigans were “that ‘Lovefool’ band”, in the same way, say, ‘Creep’ became an albatross around the 'I Need Some Fine Wine and You Need To Be Nicer'necks of Radiohead… “Yeah, absolutely! We totally had that” agrees Nina. Peter reflects further: “Talking about the whole sort of pressure in terms of being commercially successful and stuff, I think if that was sort of our goal to sell a lot of records I think we would do totally different music” “And have better bodies” offers a deadpan Magnus. So what do The Cardigans make of the U.K music scene? “Things move so fast here, with all the hype, but I like what Franz Ferdinand’s doing. The new single is great!” enthuses Nina.“It’s so crap, but that song by James Blunt. The lyric is so so bad. I mean, I can’t write lyrics but I can surely do something better than that!” adds Peter.
Heartening to think that resistance to bad music knows no national boundaries.
Getting up to leave, the allotted time already over, we remember one last thing and, slipping into fanboy mode, take out our copy of ‘Gran Turismo’ for a group signing. “I was 14 when I bought this!” we excitedly say. Nina smiles back, cool as fuck: “I was 12 when I made it” Gigwise has fallen in love with The Cardigans. Again.

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