Animal Heart is Nina Persson's first solo album, although the two albums released under the name of A Camp (the first was a collaboration between Persson and Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, the second was recorded with her husband Nathan Larson) have been regarded by many as being solo albums in everything but name.
It's fair to say that the two A Camp albums never had the same appeal or sales as, say, Gran Tursimo-era Cardigans, and if Persson has decided to emerge from the relative obscurity of A Camp and record under her own name in order to capture some of the more casual Cardigans fans, what will they find?
Animal Heart chugs along in a mostly mid-tempo mode, so there's nothing as arresting as "Erase/Rewind" or "My Favourite Game". It does sound unmistakably like Persson though, with good melodies, some memorable choruses and occasionally frayed vocals.
First, and title, track "Animal Heart" is a great way to open, as it's a confident and attractive pop song, whilst other highlights include "Forgot to Tell You" which is a breakup song that succeeds in spite of a slightly cluttered production and "Food for the Beast" where the various overdubs add something to the track. Elsewhere the more stripped-back feel of "This Is Not Heavy Metal" is very appealing.
In summary, Animal Heart has plenty to recommend it, although it does feel a little unengaging - maybe this is due to the fact that although Persson has stepped out of the shadows of A Camp to record under her own name, it's difficult to feel that by the end of the album you feel you know her any better - confessional songwriting this isn't.
But even if this does sometimes come off as polished pop that lacks heart, there's more than enough here to make it well worth checking out.