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Nina Persson: Animal Heart

Reviewed By: Fiona Hutchings
Label: Lojinx
Format: CD

Best known as the lead singer of Swedish pop stars the Cardigans, this is Nina Persson's first solo album released under her own name. Since the Cardigans' last album back in 2005, she collaborated with Niclas Frisk and Nathan Larson and released ‘Colonia’ as A Camp in 2009. She has also performed as part of the Citizens Band, and featured on a Sparklehouse/Danger Mouse collaboration called ‘Dark Night of the Soul’. She started a family too, so it is fair to say she has not been resting on her laurels.

"The most difficult and maybe also the best thing about going solo is probably all the decisions you make alone," Persson reflects. ""Somewhere inside, I have a very clear clock, a gut feeling,that says what I think. I have forced myself to just keep going and follow only my gut with this album. I have simply no time to dwell on things anymore which I did a lot before." Some navel gazing is expected though surely. The cover features a simple and obviously unpolished portrait of Persson. Her ruffled hair is no longer blonde and, yes, of course she looks older, but there is a directness and honesty about her as she gazes to your right.

The title track and first single opens the album with electonica sparks and the flawless vocals we have come to expect. 'Burning Bridges for Fuel' is much more downbeat, while 'Dreaming of Houses' has a mix of gentle pop melody and country tinged guitars. 'Clip Your Wings' has delicate piano and a less polished and perfect vocal that stops it being too much of a run-of- the-mill track. 'Jungle' is a perfectly acceptable but uninspiring album filler but luckily 'Food for the Beast' picks up the tempo. The lyrics don't quite seem to fit but that is fine because it makes you pay attention.

After the brief interlude that is 'Digestif', we return, refreshed to another perfectly nice but ultimately forgettable track called 'Forgot to Tell You.' I am a little confused by the former track. A digestif is an alcoholic beverage served after a meal, in theory to aid digestion, rather than a palate cleanser between courses. But I digress. 'The Grand Destruction Game' swoops and soars with a tale of bad boys and broken hearts. It is wonderful, and something to pick up the tempo.

The album closes with the fairground-tinged 'Silver' and the intriguing 'This is Heavy Metal'. So, does Persson suddenly go all Iron Maiden? What do you think? The album closes with another track that combines simple melodies, clever but not arrogant lyrics and an angelic voice. There is more piano and less guitar driven tracks than her previous life in the Cardigans might lead you to expect. Persson has confidence and dignity and her commitment to honesty is the driving force behind this very solid solo debut.

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