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A Camp - Colonia

A Camp, Colonia

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

A CAMP is a collaborative effort between two Swedish musicians: pop star and former figure skater Nina Persson, of The Cardigans fame, and Niclas Frisk, an outdoorsman and explorer who had himself enjoyed pop stardom with his band Atomic Swing.

Together, they share a love for classic American music, and a melancholy both universal and somehow highly specific to the Scandinavian psyche.

Their first LP, the eponymous A Camp in 2001, was awarded four Swedish Grammies and met with much critical praise abroad and Stateside.

Its follow-up, Colonia, was recorded in New York last year with help from Persson’s husband and soundtrack composer Nathan Larson, drummer Kevin March, Joan Wasser (aka Joan As Police Woman), Swedish singer-songwriter Nikolai Dunger and former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha.

If anything, it’s a better effort than their charming debut, packed full of lovely melodies, a dreamy style, clever lyrics and wondrous vocals.

I have to confess, I’ve been a fan of Persson’s distinct style ever since her Cardigans days, and here she really gets to stretch herself in several new directions.

The album opener, The Crowning, finds her tender and bittersweet, referring to history and banquet preparing, while reflecting on how “bells are going to ring, birds are going to sing” for “the crowning of your big head”. It’s a lovely intro.

The guitar loops that herald the arrival of Stronger Than Jesus, meanwhile, are melodic, folksy and classic American… with Persson hinting at the style of Sheryl Crowe vocally. The stabs of brass, though, mark it apart and give it extra impetus.

Bear On The Beach quite simply enchants, while there’s some lush orchestral arrangements giving fuller body to Love Has Left The Room, another early highlight (both retro-leaning and forward thinking).

There’s a telling duet and a nice contrast in boy-girl vocals on Goldden Teeth And Silver Medals, before we’re back in swinging ’60s mode for the upbeat Here Are Many Wild Animals, another favourite (courtesy of its whoo-wee-whoo-hoo’s and handclap beats).

My America maintains the album’s vibrant change of direction and once again brings on the horn section to satisfyingly boppy effect, while there’s an almost Carpenter-esque feel to the organs and melodies of I Signed The Line. Persson, meanwhile, injects plenty of longing into her swoonsome vocal style.

The album is rounded off with the seriously laidback The Weed Got Here First, a blissful stoner’s delight that eases you into a really relaxed state of mind, complete with subtle bass and odd orchestral sweep.

A Camp’s Colonia is therefore a highly recommended album that should win these particular Swedes even more international acclaim. It’s beautifully magnificent.

Download picks: Stronger Than Jesus, Love Has Left The Room, Here Are Many Wild Animals, My America, The Weed Got Here First

Track listing:

  1. The Crowning
  2. Stronger Than Jesus
  3. Bear On The Beach
  4. Love Has Left The Room
  5. Golden Teeth And Silver Medals
  6. Chinatown
  7. My America
  8. Eau De Colonia
  9. I Signed The Line
  10. To Be Human
  11. The Weed Got Here First