Tuesday, December 05, 2006

album of the day

A Camp by, erm, A Camp.

File under: pleasant surprises. I was never a big fan of The Cardigans, inoffensive as songs like My Favourite Game and Erase/Rewind were - maybe that was the problem. This, being as it is the first solo album by Cardigans lead singer Nina Persson, is a different kettle of fish altogether, though.

The first obstacle you have to get past before listening to it, though, is the name: I can't think of a band/album name more calculated to kill your sales stone dead. I mean, I understand she didn't want to be seen to be trading on her fame with The Cardigans, and to have people discover the album on its own merits, but at least have a name people can pronounce. Is it "A Camp" as in a large area with tents in it, or is it "A Camp" as in the one before B Camp (sort of like the A Team, perhaps). In either case, what does it all mean?

Get past that slight annoyance, though, and what you find within is a quirky collection of country-pop-ish numbers. Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse fame produces, and brings his usual bag of tricks with him: weird ambient sampled noise, tape hiss and crackle, bizarre instrumentation ("chamberlin", "jupiter", "orchestron" and "magic genie" were all new to me). It's the slower stuff that works best, like Frequent Flyer, I Can Buy You (the single), Song For The Leftovers and Silent Night. Add in a few judiciously-chosen cover versions like Restless Heart's The Bluest Eyes In Texas to balance out the slightly lumpier up-tempo stuff like The Oddness Of The Lord, and you've got something far more complex and satisfying than anything The Cardigans ever did.

Inevitably this means it sold a tiny fraction of an album like Gran Turismo, though. Paying too much attention to sales figures is the first step to owning a large collection of Westlife and Daniel O'Donnell albums, though, so be warned.

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