That used to make me feel sort of ashamed, as if I owed my indie roots better, as if my twelve year old self should have been just slightly more pretentious. It ends up, however, looking back, I knew something at twelve that I didn't at twenty:
The Cardigans are awesome.
A few years post-twenty and I appreciate that fact now, just as much, if not more than I did at twelve.
Hook laden melodies? Check. Interesting and unpredictable instrumentation that keep the band from being totally pop? Check. Sugary sweet vocals and lyrics that are alternately bitterly witty and just plain darling? Check. Completely sincere covers of metal songs? Double Check!
Combine that with the fact that frontwoman Nina Persson is a turbobabe and you've got yourself a charming band of Swedish winners that vie with True Blood's Alexander Skarsgard for the honor of being the countries best export.
Predecessors for much adored female fronted bands like Metric and The Bird and the Bee, I believe that if the Cardigans had emerged a decade later, they'd be a treasured indie band, remembered for all the things that make them so great, catchy, underrated, and glorious. But the fact of the matter is that the quintet is remembered instead for their one big hit, "Lovefool", a track more relevant now than it has been in over a decade thanks to teen pop sensation Justin "His Hair Really Knows Where It Wants To Go!" Beiber who hijacked the chorus of the track for a song I don't know the name of and really don't feel like googling. "Lovefool" is a damn glorious song, a perfect bit of pop that's just as irresistible now as it was in the summer of '96 when it was at it's peak of being ridiculously overplayed. Even so, it's sort of sad that if you mention The Cardigans to anyone who was alive in the '90's, that's the only thing they'll remember.
What they won't remember is the fact that the band abandoned the cotton candy sound of their first three discs completely in 1998 when they released the edgy, dark Gran Turismo, which featured all of the bands hooks but none of the pop pretense, seeing Persson replace fresh faced lyrics about the love with lines about substance problems, physical abuse, and love gone wrong. Pair the heartbreaking subject matter with Persson's sweet-as-ever voice and the band's tight and appealing melodies and you've got yourself a band that's just as hip as they ever were.