Dated 1994, Emmerdale is the first of the Cardigans albums and is a beautiful collection of pure vocals and effectively understated jazz/funk riffs. Probably the bands most unsettling and surreal album, Emmerdale employs quirky synchopations with high floating vocals from a young Nina Persson. Here her voice is slightly less developed and refined which, to any Cardigans fan, is a welcome change from the polished sound of Gran Turismo.
The mere fragility of her voice echoes well the insecurites behind the albums text and it's very difficult to single out any particular track for analysis as the Cardigans take us in a journey through sunny Stockholm in the late summer, early autumn.
The air of simplicity and freedom in their music is a welcome break from the coarsly stated complexities that much modern pop tries to potray and this is reflected in the artistry of the work. Simply presented, the front cover shows a dog galloping on green grass with a blue sky behind. On the reverse we are given an image of the band soaking up late afternoon sun, relaxing. Both pictures reflect well the image the Cardigans have created for themselves and displays their maturity as artists not only for the music but the package as a whole; an important factor.
The irony of the album, a constant in their work, is created through the apparrently innocent simple vocals and riffs. However, this is not the case as orchestral arrangements and bizzare instrumentation, gradually introduced, begin to haunt the magical beauty of the album. Yet the band do well to maintain this air of simplicity as the album progresses fluidly eventually climaxing in an, possibly unexpected(?), orchestral breakdown.
This exceptionally executed performance/collection deserves more respect as an album in its own right and I would reccommend it to anyone with a taste for the rurreal. The deeper you dig the more you find. 5/5