The Cardigans - Gran Turismo (Vinyl)

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Gran Turismo is the fourth studio album by Swedish band The Cardigans, released internationally on 19 October 1998 and in November 1998 in the United States. It features a darker and more moody type of music, mixing with more electronic sounds.
In an interview in 2009, producer and sound engineer Tore Johansson commented on the dark sound of the record, which sets it apart from the warm, jammy feel of many other recordings made at Tambourine Studios: "It's a very cold and defined recording, no natural reverb or audio curtains: there's not a sound element on that disc which wasn't deliberately put there."


Their big commercial breakthrough it might have been, but I’ve always found The Cardigans’ “Lovefool” to be a rather creepy tune as far a twee indie-pop goes. As a tune it almost totally overshadowed the rest of its parent album, First Band on the Moon, and it seemed that despite their wry line in unexpectedly sinister Black Sabbath covers, that The Cardigans would end up being a one hit wonder group, much like The Wannadies.

Then, as the 90s closed and the music buying public had by and large turned their back on Britpop and it started to dawn on them that guitar groups obsessed with far better bands in everyone's joint past might be a little passe, The Cardigans returned with a highly polished indie-pop album, with just the right blend of guitars, electropop, indie rock and icy cool Scandinavian style to catch the attention, resulting in the masses going “Hang on, weren’t you the “Lovefool” guys? What the hell happened?”

Grand Turismo is the album on which The Cardigans decided to drop the twee jangle-pop, and deliver a very modern indie-rock album which contained more than one stylistic nod to their contemporaries Garbage. Thing is, such is the quality of Nina Persson's voice, just about everything on Grand Turismo has an undeniably pop sweetness, even if the music, arrangements, and lyrics are anything but. For example “Starter” would sound like a sinister slow paced rocker, were it not for Persson’s voice, and her unsettlingly otherworldly quality, as it is, it arguably sounds even creepier.

I recall Grand Turismo being an album which hung around the charts for quite a while when it was released, something which was rare for guitar-based acts at the time unless they were already huge commercial concerns like Oasis or Radiohead, taking the world by surprise like Travis, or Welsh (seriously, it’s easy to forget just how big the likes of Catatonia and Stereophonics were at the time!). Some of this was in part to the fact that it contained two sizeable hit singles in “Erase and Rewind” and the rocking “My Favourite Game”, but even then, you would have expected it to have dropped off the charts like a lot of albums from those acts that had done quite well just three or four years before. Yet Grand Turismo stuck around the charts. This is mainly because that unlike its predecessor, its not an album totally dominated by its big hit, the whole album is pretty solid as close of the last century indie-pop goes. As a band The Cardigans were relatively adaptable and could be rock, pop, dance-pop, electro-pop, and have the smarts to be able to combine them all on the same album without it sounding like an incoherent mess.

If The Cardigans had decided to follow up the success of Grand Turismo with more of the same, chances are they would have enjoyed consistent chart action over the next five or six years. As it was, they felt they had ticked the polished indie-pop box, and they continued to diversify, with their next album having something of a country-rock feel about it.

While Grand Turismo sounds uneniably of its time, it’s still an album with a huge amount of replay value, which is more than can be said for a lot of big-selling indie-rock albums from 1999 (yep, even Travis), and it proved once and for all that The Cardigans were a lot more than just “Lovefool”.

By: p_q

A1 Paralyzed
A2 Erase / Rewind
A3 Explode
A4 Starter
A5 Hanging Around
B1 Higher
B2 Marvel Hill
B3 My Favourite Game
B4 Do You Believe
B5 Junk Of The Hearts
B6 Nil

Remastered 180 gsm

Record Label: Universal / Stockholm