Nina Persson is an artist whose back catalogue speaks volumes about her dexterous versatility. Having experienced mainstream success with her band The Cardigans, Persson took the interesting side step for her solo-ish rock folk project A Camp shortly after her band had reached their career commercial high – 1998’s Gran Turismo. With nearly a decade having passed since The Cardigans last released a studio album, 2005’s Super Extra Gravity and half that since A Camp’s last offering, 2009’s Colonia, it appears that Persson has finally decided to bite the bullet and go it fully alone.
Having been inspired to finally explore the solo terrain after hearing her body clock ticking loudly, 39 year old Persson has somewhat surprisingly kept her security blanket in tact – enlisting her husband Nathan Larson to assist Eric D. Johnson with songwriting and production duties. However, their inclusion is far from to the detriment of Animal Heart.
Somewhat pleasingly Persson manages to balance all the positives of her previous musical outings, while displaying a quiet confidence in finally opening her hearts to her listeners. Animal Heart is essentially a muted The Cardigans and poppy A Camp. For those longing for a distancing from her indie pop hey day may have to wait a while longer.
For those happy for a trip down memory lane accompanied by some striking new songs, then you are in for a treat. Opening with the lead single and title track, Animal Heart never pretends to be anything that it is not. An urgent, driven pop song, ‘Animal Heart’ shows an understanding for synthpop, while not abandoning an indie sensibility. Album highlight ‘Burning Bridges For Fuel’ arrives next, offering a distinct contradiction to the peppy opening. Sparse, stoic and truly touching, ‘Burning Bridges For Fuel’ offers a real lighters in the air moment of spine-tingling beauty.
While arguably Animal Heart opens with its finest two offerings, it still has plenty to offer. ‘Food For The Beast’ sees Persson break out her inner disco diva. With a Sophie Ellis Bextor-esque nonchalance, ‘Food For The Beast’ is an addictive offering. The dreamy guitar-pop of ‘Forgot To Tell You’ reiterates the earlier demonstration that with some artists less is so much more. Having shone on ‘Burning Bridges For Fuel’, Persson’s distinctive vocals once again show the true depth of their beauty.
Animal Heart marks for many the return of one of indie pop’s finest vocalists. Having finally taken the brave step of standing solo under the spotlight, Animal Heart works well to reintroduce Persson’s artistry. While it may not tick every box it needs to, Animal Heart has more than enough to tease the taste buds for the her next release.
Standout Tracks: ‘Animal Heart’ / ‘Burning Bridges For Fuel’