The British don’t really know how to do cold – we grumble; trains are cancelled; we grumble some more; there are some pictures on the news of dogs in the snow; the snow turns to slush; pipes burst; we grumble… repeat.
But the Scandinavians? They laugh at what we call snow. They can walk to to work in a seven ft deep snow drift… on their hands. And when they do have to stay at home and take shelter, they do it properly.
The Danish call it hygge, the Swedish call it… whatever the Swedish word for ‘hygge’ is. It mainly involves candles, blankets, pastries, and introspection. Ah – wonderful introspection - the Swedish do it brilliantly, and they make such good music with it, too.
I won’t mention that band – y’know – the one from the 70s with the film franchise - but my God they could write an immense pop bastard, and fill it with some of the saddest lyrics ever committed to flat-pack paper.
- - -
- - -
And so to the Cardigans. ‘Ah yes!’ You say – ‘The Cardigans! They did that Romeo + Juliet song… and that ‘Turn Back Time’ one! I reply that the second one was by Aqua, and I walk away from you, forever. No - you berk - The Cardigans - as well as having a ‘best of’ that is up there with the…erm … best of them – they made one of the most underrated and ignored albums of the early 00’s.
‘Long Gone Before Daylight’ is like hygge in album form, only in a way that it doesn’t become as irritating as Hygge did two years ago. It’s also a break-up album, up there with ‘Blood On The Tracks’.
No – really. The Cardigans had always managed to disguise their melancholy behind big grooves before – ‘Lovefool’ (the Romeo + Juliet one), ‘My Favourite Game’; ‘Carnival’ and ‘Hanging Around’ being amongst the ditties to have ultra-sad lyrics put to - as a Radio 1 DJ would call it - a tuuuuuune.
Much like ‘The Winner Takes It… oh. I’m not mentioning that band.
- - -
- - -
The cover art is the first clue – all shadows, wood, half-light and candlelight. The disco is stripped away here – it’s been closed down, and everyone has had to go and hang out at Nina Persson’s house next to the fire with some cocoa and a bun.
What’s left is a band with incredible musicality, and, in Persson, an intimate voice which soars – strong and vulnerable simultaneously in standout tracks such as ‘Communication’, ‘You’re The Storm’ and ‘For What It’s Worth’, her voice is the star.
But it’s not about standout tracks here – this an album you can listen to from beginning to end, get lost in, get wrapped up in – occasionally breaking you with lyrics such as "Your eyes don’t like me no more; they quiver and they shift to the floor" in ‘Couldn’t Care Less’. At the end, by the final snare on ‘If There is a Chance’ you emerge blinking into the weak winter light feeling as if you’ve just meditated and had a cathartic cry in one fell swoop.
And you know what another comforting thing is? Vinyl. The tactile nature, the crackle as the needle drops; the pops between the tracks; the interaction of flipping from side ‘A’ to side ‘B’. ‘Long Gone Before Daylight’ and vinyl are the perfect combo.
It was released for Record Store Day 2015, and after missing out on that, I’ve been considering paying the online rate of £90 since (yes – it’s that good). Well – no more – f*** you people who bought stuff on RSD just to sell on, because it’s getting a proper re-release, along with the rest of their back catalogue, and I urge you (not you, you album-tout-pricks) to dig in – you deserve it.
Me? I’m procuring a blanket; a cinnamon bun; a high quality of living; and a workable version of socialism. Then, I’m going to lie on my sofa, draw the blind on the monochrome day, and put ‘Long Gone Before Daylight’ on.
Oh – and I’m playing it back to back with ‘The Visitors’ by ABBA. Oh shit - I mentioned them, didn’t I.
- - -
- - -
The Cardigans are set to re-issue their entire catalogue on vinyl this year.
Words: Matt Charlton // @matt_charlton
Join us on Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.