Collaborations, Time Off Prove Key To The Cardigans' Return

Excerpted from the magazine for

After a four-year hiatus, the members of Sweden's Cardigans have returned with "Long Gone Before Daylight" -- and a radically different sound. It is a recording that offers fresh, stripped-down songs that mark a departure from the band's more lush previous efforts, including its last recording, 1998's "Gran Turismo."

The change comes after a break that was triggered by near exhaustion and deteriorating relationships within the group.

After touring in support of "Gran Turismo" for a year, the band made no firm decision about its future, and its members went their separate ways. During time away, singer/lyricist Nina Persson released an album under the name A Camp. It was a collaboration with musician Niclas Frisk and Sparklehorse's Mark Linkous.

"I learned more about what music could be about," Persson says. "Without that project, I would probably have not gone back to the Cardigans."

According to songwriter/guitarist Peter Svensson, the band naturally drifted back together during a sojourn to Los Angeles. "After a while, everyone got their desire back," he explains, "and we started enjoying each other's company again."

Recorded during the past 2 1/2 years, "Long Gone Before Daylight" marks a distinct change in the way the band works.

"Previously, it was mainly the producer and me," Svensson admits. "I was tired of the situation, and the other guys didn't feel involved. It was easy to change. Instead of going straight into the studio with a new song, we spent six months in a rehearsal room and built something around the band. The sound of the album developed in that room. It was great to discover the band again after 10 years together."

Mixing uplifting, guitar-based melodies with darkly emotive lyrics that recount tales of frustrated romances and the fragility of relationships, the Cardigans' juxtaposition between music and lyrics has never been wider.

But Persson is quick to point out that her lyrics are far from autobiographical.

"My life is good," she asserts. "I am not a depressed person at all. The songs are not really based on my own experiences. I like to watch people around me. It's a mystery to me that people have such huge problems with relationships. It's a never-ending source of inspiration."

"Long Gone Before Daylight" is available throughout Europe on the Universal Music International-distributed label Stockholm Records. A release date in the U.S. is still to be confirmed.

Currently on an extensive European promotional tour involving TV appearances, industry showcases, and radio sessions, the band is set to concentrate its live efforts on the summer festivals. Already confirmed are performances during Germany's Rock am Ring and Rock im Park, as well as the Dutch event Pinkpop.

Regarding the future, Persson is understandably relaxed, despite all of the current activity. "There will be some kind of break," she says. "We are spoiled, as we don't have any pressure put on us. We kind of freak out if we do."

Excerpted from the May 17, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Premium Services section.

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