Anyone who remembered Cardigans frontwoman Nina Persson as a pixie mewling “Love me, love me, say that you love me” got a rude awakening on the band’s previous studio album, Long Gone Before Daylight
. The group once poised to become Sweden’s Great New Abba Hope had turned a dark corner. Gone were the boppy lounge-pop beats, replaced with formidable guitar licks, a melancholy alt-country twang in Persson’s beguiling voice, and aching odes to doomed relationships. But on Super Extra Gravity
, Persson’s a victim no more. Hearing her purr “Sit! Good dog — stay! Bad dog!” at the beginning of “I Need Some Fine Wine and You, You Need To Be Nicer” may elicit a laugh, but, backed by Peter Svensson’s tight arrangements, she takes the reins for the rest of the song and the CD. She still gets to play chanteuse on the lush “Don’t Blame Your Daughter,” but this grittier release gives her more room to roam. On “In the Round,” she makes like a coy Stevie Nicks over a minimal bass line, and she wails “I’m fickle and I’m vain” on the stomping “Losing a Friend.” The closer is a sequel to Long Gone Before Daylight
’s “And Then You Kissed Me” that’s much like the rest of Super Extra Gravity
: distorted, gravelly guitars underscore Persson’s voice, but now when she says, “True love/Is cruel love,” you believe she might be the one inflicting the blows.