A Camp - Colonia
A Camp is a re-union of an intriguing off-shoot group featuring members of 90s legends groups such as The Cardigans (Nina Persson) and Atomic Swing (Niclas Frisk), who dazzled and slightly confused an unprepared music public in 2001. With a debut album representing for them, a calming down, chilling out and a contemplative turn.
Nearly eight years on, A Camp's 2nd album, ‘Colonia' does not seem as much of a surprise and the sonic booming opener, ‘The Crowning' is given profile and clarity by Persson's clear and hearty pop pushed vocals, harnessing the swooning key led instrumental. Cushioned by some neat and colourful arrangements by composer Nathan Larsson, it helps these Swedes show how ABBA might have sounded, had they battled through the misty fog of their changing outlooks and personal tensions.
Those who fell in love with Persson's darker edge will be comforted by the slowed down bluegrass, traditional folk and indie merging swagger of ‘Stronger Than Jesus'. Whereby, a steadily winding guitar tug is emboldened by mid-tempo percussion, elevating the slightly coarse and forlorn vocals. Exposing a poetic, yet cynical lyrical edge;
"See the people heading for disaster, standing in line just looking for a little fun.
Love is a fire; a hot hot plaster with a vengeance burning in the Kongo sun."
Eels-like digital tinkering fails to save ‘Bear on the Beach', from being an uninspiring, lazy ballad of a low-point, as the ex-Cardigans star fails to give any real potency or feeling to her vocals. There is a lingering sense that the band is getting to know each other again, despite being very talented and experienced performers, there is a lack of cohesion that is evident in some of the offerings.
An indication of their potential poignancy is delicately unfurled in the tenderising female/male vocal to and fro of the two leading players. This element lushly plays off a slow and subtle percussion base to build up to a luxurious pop centred chorus, ‘Golden Teeth And Silver Medals'. This delightfully uplifting saunter oozes playfulness and high spirits, showing that Persson is keen to demonstrate that darkness is only one part of her personality.
A more rustic direction is headed towards and a stirring guitar sweep aids the slow turning blues vocals for a bracing moment, ‘Chinatown'. You sense that A Camp is finding the right territory for their skills and experience. This makes the vibrantly aching ‘My America', more noticeable for its bounding backing and the animated singing that made The Cardigans so captivating.
A cynical swipe at modern life, love and control freaks through ‘I Signed The Line', shows that these artists still feel they have something to say and are not content to just ride on the plaudits of their past successes. A Camp has a decision to make, this whether or not they are going to put in the effort and hard work needed to establish the group as genuine outfit? Or will they simply rely on their name and fans of their old bands to keep them afloat? This album shows, in places, a depth and keenness to get a message of seriousness across, but overall the answer to this poser is still yet unknown.
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