Unfortunately, the Cardigans are best known in the United States for their 1997 single "Lovefool," a fluke Top 40 hit thanks to its inclusion on the soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann's splashy updating of Romeo and Juliet. In that context, the Swedish quintet came off as Europop lightweights, Ace of Base with a bit more indie cred. This truly did the group a disservice, because as Best of the Cardigans reveals, Nina Persson and company were a truly gifted pop band that delivered some of the most intoxicating singles of the '90s. Proceeding in chronological order from 1994's Emmerdale through 2005's Super Extra Gravity, the 22 tracks are front-loaded with many of the band's finest, from their winsome debut single "Rise and Shine" to the tongue in cheek lounge pop of the singles from 1995's Life, the glorious "Carnival" (arguably their career high point) and "Daddy's Car." A more conventional alt-rock sound enters circa 1997's First Band on the Moon's bitter kiss-off "Been It," and by the time of later albums like the electronica-inspired Gran Turismo and the moody Long Gone Before Daylight, the Cardigans seemed stung by misapprehensions about their earlier work that had overlooked its ironic humor and seen only the bubblegummy surface. That seems to have changed, however, if the 22-second long "Bonus Track" and the glitchy dance-rock take on Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House," with guest vocals by Tom Jones, that end the disc are any indication. ~ Stewart Mason, Rovi
Track samples provided courtesy of iTunes
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