This first-time U.S. release of the Cardigans’ debut album comes as a real treat for fans and newcomers as well. Originally released in 1994 in Europe, some of these songs appeared on Life , the American compilation of the Cardigans’ first two albums. This complete version of Emmerdale , with four bonus tracks from the European version of Life , generously features ten songs that were not included on the American version of Life .
In these early recordings, the Cardigans sound very much inspired by the Sundays, and many of their songs are filtered through a nostalgic ’60s lounge feel. Because of Nina Persson’s sweet voice and the bright, upbeat music that usually accompanies it, some find it easy to dismiss the Cardigans as a lightweight pop group, but excellent songwriting and arranging have given them an edge over run-of-the-mill top 40 bands. A particularly interesting track is “Our Space,” which represents the group’s early stab at trip-hop in the Portishead vein. Also really cool is the group’s kitschy, lounge arrangement of Black Sabbath’s “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath,” which began the group’s strange tradition of covering material by these fathers of gloomy metal. The album ends with the dark and beautiful “Last Song,” which features a brilliantly arranged string quartet as the sole accompaniment to Persson’s plaintive delivery. The four “bonus” songs really are bonuses, especially “Sunday Circus Song” and “Closing Time,” which sounds like an outtake from the Beatles’ White Album.
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