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A Camp is the sound of the Cardigans' Nina Persson getting back to her roots. When "Lovefool" catapulted the Cardigans into the major league courtesy of the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack, the ensuing global pop fame threatened to implode the band. They responded by turning into a snarling rock beast with Gran Turismo, but relations became further strained. In a period of rest and recuperation, Cardigans singer Nina Persson turned her nose up at that particular rock beast and went back to her bittersweet guitar beginnings. What A Camp isn't, though, is a retread of early Cardigans. It's a mature, reflective album with lush country overtones that resound with a strident melancholy. Not surprising, perhaps, when Sparklehorse leader Mark Linkous was at the production controls. Even with that influence behind her, A Camp is very much Persson's vehicle. It's the sound of a woman ditching the PVC trousers and blonde tresses for chic dresses and a black bob, leaving the small stuff behind and growing up. All told, it's an unexpectedly pleasing graduation, with honours. --Ben Clancy
Top Customer Reviews
A Camp was born in 1997 after a meeting with Niclas Frisk, who co-wrote most of the songs and plays on several of them. Boyfriend Nathan Larson (from Shudder To Think) also plays on all but one of the tracks and co-wrote the opening song. Frequent Flyer sets the mood of the album as it opens with eerie samples, theremin sounds, thuddy drums and Nina's gorgeously bittersweet vocals over an engaging melody. In fact the tunes retain a high standard throughout and the quirky production (though mainstream by Sparklehorse standards) is never less than complementary and interesting. Angel Of Sadness is a stand-out song although I Can Buy You made a first class single.
Although the album consists mostly of original material, a few stray covers shoe-horn their way in - the Replacements' Rock 'n' Roll Ghost; bizarrely, Restless Heart's old US hit The Bluest Eyes In Texas; and Walking The Cow, one of the best known songs of cult singer Daniel Johnston, whose 2003 album Fear Yourself was also produced by Mark Linkous.
A Camp manages the delicate trick of being unmistakably, instantly belonging to Nina Persson whilst at the same time being quite distinct from the Cardigans. May her future projects be as successful
A Camp's debut album (effectively Nina Persson's solo debut) is a strange hybrid of styles, with the influence of Sparklehorse mainstay Mark Linkous very much in evidence. Those of you familiar with the Sparklehorse sound (fragile ballad followed by dirty rock monster) will know what to expect already. It's something of a roller-coaster ride, with Persson's vocal performances masked by distortion effects on some tunes, and at other times sounding as tender and innocent as she did when recording 'Life' with the Cardigans, before they went all Black Sabbath for real.
Two singles kick the album off, and while the country slant of this album has been mentioned, there's also a Byrds/Beatles undercurrent in the frequent switching of major and minor chords. The rest of the album ranges from alt.country to heavier rock to blues, but each style is tackled with respect and energy, allowing the songs to shine through. The backing band don't overcomplicate things (the pedal steel player deserves special mention) while Linkous's production skills polish the whole album up nicely, keeping the sinister undertones of some of the songs alive while allowing the occasional rock wig-out to break up the melancholy.
There are a few low points on the album - Angel of Sadness sounds as if it is an idea waiting for someone to turn it into a song, while Walking The Cow is just plain daft. But there's enough here to show that, even if the Cardigans called it a day tomorrow, Nina Persson will continue to play and sing the music she loves. And she sings it very well.
I would recommend at first listening skipping the dull first three tracks and druggie fourth track, in case you get bored and stop listening before you reach the good bits. There is some nice cornet playing on "Song for the Leftovers", which as one might guess from the title is about a couple of wallflowers at the end of party getting together.
"Hard as a Stone", halfway through the album, is the first track with any real oomph, in the style of a snarling late '70s punk rocker, vaguely Public Image.
"The Oddness of the Lord" is quite raucous, it would have fitted on Bowie's "No. 1 Outside".
The best tracks are a couple of country & western covers, "Rock 'N' Roll Ghost" and "The Bluest Eyes in Texas". Strangely the former seems to be the least favourite song of fans of its writer's band, "The Replacements".
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Almost anything with Nina's voice has to be good. Prefer some of the Cardigan's stuff, but not all of it.Published 14 months ago by Bamber
another one for my sons strange taste in music but he likes it and it arrived in the agreed time and in good condition thanksPublished on 9 Aug. 2014 by Mr. J. Cooper
Most CDs I buy get pumped into the iPod and then more or less immediately resold on here. I bought this CD back when it was released (in 2001 I think) and I have no intention of... Read morePublished on 24 Aug. 2009 by lifeclearout
I also hate the artwork for this album. Even the font is horrible! (although thankfully you do get the lyrics, which is always a plus point for me). Read morePublished on 25 May 2009 by M. S. Woodley
If you are looking for the sweet little blonde thing that sung Lovefool, don't buy this album. If anything, this album is far closer to the more deep sophiscated and dark pieces of... Read morePublished on 24 May 2009