I’ve been a huge fan of the Cardigans since their first U.S. single “Carnival”. I was living in Boston and I vividly remember the first time I heard it on the radio. It was bubbly and treacly and then about halfway through it turned into something fantastic.
And that’s how I’ve felt about them ever since. They obviously hit the big time with “Lovefool” and then became something of a one hit wonder band (in the US, although not in Europe). Which is a shame because they’ve written some amazing songs.
I just learned about this Best of (not released in the US). It’s got 22 tracks on disc one including all of their international hits and a few surprises. Disc Two features a ton of B-sides and other fun things. I have a lot of these tracks from when I was a singles collector, but it’s a lot more fun to have them in one place. And, I stopped collecting singles quite a few years ago, so it’s nice to have these newer B-side too.
But perhaps the most fun part of this collection is the liner notes. You get a band’s eye view of all of the songs–where they recorded them, what worked and what didn’t and even what it’s like to have unexpected enormous success (for a short period of time).
I’ve seen the Cardigans live about three times. Their live shows bring out a whole new layer that is not apparent on their discs (except for their Black Sabbath covers). They can be a pretty heavy, rocking band. On the last tour I saw, Nina came out in leather pants and they opened with a cover of “Iron Man.” It was pretty intense. Don’t judge by their adorable looks, they’re a solid band, and this is a great place to delve into more than the hit.
[READ: November 30, 2009] “Mermaid Fever”
This story has a fairly simple premise: a mermaid washes up dead on a beach. The town where she was found claims her as their own. They display her in a museum and everyone from miles around comes to see her. Mermaid fever sweeps the town.
What was interesting about the story, beyond the supernatural premise, was the amount of detail Millhauser threw in. Everyone is familiar with when some kind of fever sweeps a town, but with the mermaid, it took on far more unrealistic proportions. Perfect for humor but also for the underlying message. So, it was fun to see the way everyone started dressing like a mermaid: bathing suits that taper down like a tail. But it was also interesting to hear people complaining about how dehumanizing this new trend became.
And it was equally creepy to see how far people were willing to go to emulate the new figure: parties, tattoos, false sightings and even delusional swims in questionable waters.
It’s interesting when a story that you can pretty much tell what is going to happen before it happens is still a compelling read. Beyond the basic mermaidiness of the story, it was a nice look into the behaviors of humanity. And, even better, it was nice at the mermaid brought out these aspects of people without actually being alive (and asking about humanity like some kind of bad fish out of water movie).