By: Eric G.
The Cardigans have shed their sixties kitsch in favor of a darker, more atmospheric sound leaning towards trip-hop. This will, invariably, stave off loyal fans of the band’s bubblegum pop while, perhaps, garnering some credibility and respect from those who were put off by the obviousness of the band’s previous output, if it doesn’t lump them in a ‘bandwagon’ category. The catchy hooks and riffs are still there, but they are disguised better with more complex arrangements and layers of synthetics. Nina Persson’s lulling coo of a voice is hard to ignore, especially on the band’s first single “My Favorite Game”, a driving and alluring song with morose lyrics and clever breaks and build-ups.
The Cardigans have always been extremely meticulous with their production and Gran Turismo is no exception. From the first few seconds of the opening track, “Paralyzed”, it is obvious this is going to be a very different course for The Cardigans. The melodies are smarter and more drawn out. The sound is very crisp and direct with each instrument clearly defined, which really doesn’t distinguish it from the past apart from the instrumentation, but the effect is more concentrated and personal, revealing more dimensions to the music. The band’s new direction is summed up in “Starter”, where Persson sings “new beginning again/a bit closer to the end.”
Stylistically, Persson’s voice is more suited to the darker tone of the album than the sugary pop of First Band On The Moon or Life. The guitars are also louder but not overbearing. Peter Svensson’s songwriting has obviously grown by leaps and bounds making Gran Turismo a very sleek and sophisticated record.