The Cardigans rose to notoriety in the nineties with the megahit “Lovefool,” which landed on the soundtrack to Baz Luhrman’s Romeo + Juliet, one of the most popular soundtracks of the decade. Cardigans frontwoman Nina Persson eventually formed A Camp in the early part of this decade. This year’s Animal Heart is the definitive solo project for Persson, her album released on Brooklyn-based indie label The End Records. Twelve tracks total, Animal Heart is less pop-driven than her previous projects, instead giving a stripped down sound that heavily relies on the power of Persson’s voice, which remains as strong and memorable as ever.
Animal Heart reveals an intimate portrait of Persson, too. An artist who wants to escape naive, youthful tendencies and move on towards something new and meaningful. The sentiment is felt on the album’s title track, where Persson sings to her lover, “My animal heart’s telling me to flee/I’m done with this dance, baby, bail with me.”
The record is heavily done in a storytelling style, rather than falling on pop tendencies like her previous projects, while keeping that alt-country sound kicking since some of the later Cardigans albums. One exception is “Food for the Beast,” a track written by Joan Wasser (of Joan as Police Woman) with a disco vibe like that of Deborah Harry.
Later, on the heartfelt “Jungle”, human suffering and destruction can be seen as a personal struggle for Persson as well as ruminations of its global impact, referring to both the metaphorical jungle we experience in daily life as well as the environments mankind exploits and destroys. Like this song and so many others on the album, Persson’s music is finally revealing about herself, her thoughts on the human condition and offers her ideas for hope in clever and interesting ways with an Animal Heart.