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When A Camp's understated debut album emerged in 2001, it was inevitably overshadowed by Nina Persson's day job as frontwoman for the globally successful Cardigans. But with that band's commercial star dimmed and their very future in doubt, this wintery, sixties-soaked second record seems less side dish and more main course. As such it's tart, sweet and satisfying.
Colonia was produced by Persson with her film composer husband and it shows, with her piercing vocals framed by lusciously atmospheric arrangements. Take the opening The Crowning, a waltzing, twinkling lament that packs a lyrical punch (as with fellow Swede Jens Lekman, Persson is vastly more adept with English than most homegrown indie plodders). Or hear how Persson's voice floats hauntingly over music box whirring on Bear On The Beach.
Stronger Than Jesus is as good, built from the kind of melancholy guitar line, weaving central melody and celestial harmonies that McAlmont and Butler perfected on their two unjustly neglected albums. Love Has Left The Room and I Signed The Line are similarly direct, and as melodically and emotionally rich as the Cardigans at their loveliest, while the heavily orchestrated To Be Human is effortlessly affecting.
The only real criticism of Colonia is that the frosty, wistful mood can veer towards saminess, although when A Camp experiment on Here Are Many Wild Animals, the results are mixed. This song has a ravishing, energised chorus, but is marred by kitschy vocal effects and handclaps, the sole remnant of Persson's recent Adam Ant obsession. As for the ambient instrumental Eau De Colonia, it's both inoffensive and inessential.
But these are minor gripes, and the overwhelming impact of Colonia is of a singer and songwriter in total command of her powers. Perhaps the return of The Cardigans isn't as desirable as it once seemed. --Jaime Gill
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Top Customer Reviews
Nina's voice continues to improve with age and the production will suit those drawn to the Cardigans' later efforts. Soft rock with a dark underbelly sits next to some great pop and soul. It's a shame that Colonia will be largely ignored and Nina forever remembered for LoveFool and My Favourite Game. Unless, that is, we the consumers don't allow it to be that way.
Over the years Nina has transformed into one of pop's most understated but cunning lyricists. In the album's first single, Stronger That Jesus, we're presented with love as a series of violent images. Love is 'poison in a bonbon', it can 'do you like a shotgun'. The punultimate track, It's Not Easy To Be Human, could come straight from the journals of Morrissey.
So on Nina's current form, a new Cardigans album, while welcome, is something that's a whole lot easier to wait for. Nope, instead I now find myself waiting as equally impatiently for the third A Camp LP.
The first album by A Camp was a bit of a neglected classic, an album which popped up and disappeared almost without a trace, but is well worth seeking out. It doesn't really compare to "Colonia" though, as while the debut had some frankly weird and experimental tracks such as "The Oddness Of The Lord", "Colonia" is just gorgeous from start to finish.
Seek out the video to "Stronger Than Jesus" online and if you enjoy that you'll doubtless enjoy the rest, although that particular song is more poppy than many of the other tracks here. If compared to the albums of Nina's other band The Cardigans, "Colonia" is most like the fantastic "Long Gone Before Daylight", such is its sustained beauty and mood.
At first listen, "Colonia" is a wonderful album, and I'm already doubting that anything will better this in 2009. A gem.
Highlights include the first single "Stronger Than Jesus", "My America", "I Signed The Line", "Bear On The Beach", "Love Has Left The Room" and "It's Not Easy To Be Human" I have to give a special mention to the beautiful duet "Gold Teeth And Silver Medals" and the Adam and the Ants inspired "Here Are Many Wild Animals"
This is an absolute must for fans of The Cardigans.
I'm predicting this will be my number one album of 2009. Buy it now!
Well, this is a collection of varied melodious well crafted pop songs. Immaculate production. I won't tell my mate though, he's smug enough!
Well worth buying.
There is about half of a good album here, but many of the songs are insubstantial and only rescued by Nina's characterful voice. It starts off well, up to the delicious Love Has Left The Room, but, unlike one other reviewer, I found myself skipping Golden Teeth and Silver Medals and I found myself gradually losing interest after that.
It's a bit like a Beatles album with everything written by McCartney – lacking the more hard-edged input which it badly needs. I know they're not youngsters any more, but much of this feels like music written by people who mooch around in slippers; it needs a good kick up the backside with a pair of Doc Martens to restore the extra kick applied to Super Extra Gravity.
Nina Persson, to many of us, will always be the sweetly icy blonde from Swedish indie darlings The Cardigans, singing skewed pop songs about Lovefools and Favourite Games. A Camp is her side-project with fellow countryman Niclas Frisk, a friend who, like her, secretly loved classic American songs. Their 2001 self-titled debut album came dappled with Deep South sunshine, but their 2009 follow-up is another creature entirely. Absurdly ambitious and glamorous, it travels from Victorian Manhattan to the 1970s Bowery, across continental roadtrips and through mystical landscapes, and takes radio-friendly sounds into bold, new dimensions.
Although this record is instantly catchy, it's also mesmerically odd. Its far-reaching intentions are clear from the opening track, a colossal, silvery epic called The Crowning. A tinkling piano summons the `perfect pop' of The Carpenters' Close To You and the shimmer of Phil Spector; Persson brings us into a room brightened with flowers in rose and maroon where fires are lit and swines are seasoned, and then, out of nowhere, curtains open, and someone's bloody head is born. It's both alarming and rather sublime, and the chorus captures the glitz and melancholy of ABBA's best ballads; here's art and pop making strange and seductive new bedfellows.
But while Colonia is all about grand expressions of emotion, it rarely crosses over into extravagance or, indeed, camp. Persson's voice is the key to this magic. There is a delicate resignation in that line "luck can do you like a shotgun", in Stronger Than Jesus, a paean to the broken woman.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A Camp - Colonia (Reveal)
The long-awaited follow-up to their 2001 self-titled debut, A Camp - led by Cardigans frontwoman, Nina Persson with friend and countryman Niclas... Read more
I wonder whether A Camp were brought up on vinyl, where, taking advantage of the two sides, an album often has too quite distinct halves. Read morePublished on 16 Jun. 2010 by Mr. J. A. Cousins
I ordered this product at a very busy time just prior to Xmas and it arrived very promptly. Excellent service from Amazon.ColoniaPublished on 19 Jan. 2010 by Mr. A. Ritson
It seems to be turning into a bit of a Swedish weekend.
You know how it is. You can stand waiting for a Number 8
bus for half-an-hour or more and then three come... Read more
Most of the 25-30 age group that grew up as indie-pop did - that seemingly bygone age when Glastonbury witnessed sunshine, when everyone was mildly optimistic about the future,... Read morePublished on 28 April 2009 by Mr. Gideon D. Brody
A welcome return and worth the wait. Nina's voice sounds as fresh as on the earlier Cardigans recordings, and the sound is reassuringly easy with not a weak track on the album.Published on 7 April 2009 by John Longley