Nina Persson and her Cardigans bandmates have always had an uneasy relationship with religion – most notably on the atheistic anthem ‘Godspell’ from 2006′s Super Extra Gravity (“It’s not murder, it’s an act of faith”) – that stems from growing up as Black Sabbath-loving future rock stars in Jönköping, arguably Sweden’s most Christian city. Nina’s other band A Camp – not technically a solo project – dealt with these themes too on the fuzzed-out racket of ‘The Oddness Of The Lord’ from their 2001 self-titled debut.
After a long eight-year wait for a follow-up album that many believed would never come, Nina is back, this time without Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous but with her husband Nathan Larson and long-time A Camp collaborator Niclas Frisk making up a trio. ‘Stronger Than Jesus’ is the first single to be lifted from the excellent Colonia (out February 2) and is full of clever and evocative lyrics that border on pure poetry at times.
“Who told you love was the alpha and omega?” sings Nina after a classic Cardigans style guitar intro, subtly tying together the song’s two themes of heartache and religion with a reference to the Bible’s Book of Revelation. ”It’s a poison hidden in a bonbon,” concludes the first verse, and on it goes. Lovely metaphors abound, and it’s tempting to think that the line “any monkey looking like a saviour” is a dig at the now departed 43rd President of the USA.
In a nutshell, it’s an irresistibly catchy way of saying, yeah, war and politics in the pursuit of religious beliefs is ever so nasty and all, but love, oh complicated love, it’s a killer in the end but will see us through this mess. At least, that’s what I think it says. Whatever. It’s a fantastic reintroduction to a talent who has been sorely undervalued since the commercial heyday of Gran Turismo.