specialized in sugary confections that would grow annoying very quickly if they weren't backed by solid musicianship and clever arrangements. The band's 1995 breakout album,
being the major argument in favor -- and critics inserted the group into the space age pop revivalist camp.
later proved that they were more difficult to pigeonhole, however.
Even the band's origins showed that their later appearance was quite misleading; two heavy metal fanatics formed the group in October 1992 in Jonkoping, Sweden. Guitarist Peter Svensson
met bassist Magnus Sveningsson
in a hardcore group, though he had previously trained in music theory and jazz arranging. The two later grew tired of metal and decided to form a pop band with vocalist Nina Persson
-- an art-school friend who had never sung professionally -- plus keyboard player Lars-Olof Johansson
and drummer Bengt Lagerberg
All five Cardigans
moved into a small apartment in 1993 and began recording a demo tape that entered the hands of producer Tore Johansson
later that year. He liked what he heard and invited the group to record at his Malmö studio. Signed to the dance-oriented Stockholm label, the Cardigans
in May 1994. The single "Rise & Shine" became a hit on Swedish radio soon after the release of the LP, and a readers poll in Sweden's Slitz magazine voted Emmerdale
the best album of 1994.The Cardigans
spent the last half of 1994 touring Europe and recording their second album. A satirical response to their moody debut, Life
showed the band at their most upbeat, including an angelic picture of Persson
in an ice-skating outfit for the cover. Released in March 1995 -- with several re-recordings of songs from Emmerdale
-- the album eventually sold one and a half million copies worldwide and became especially popular in Japan, where it achieved platinum status.
A deal with Minty Fresh gave the Cardigans
an American release of Life
in spring 1996, and the group played eight sold-out shows in the U.S. that summer. The American major labels began to notice the attention, and Mercury signed them soon after. First Band on the Moon
, released in September 1996, de-emphasized the pure pop in favor of abstract arrangements and some rather violent themes. Nevertheless, the infectious single "Lovefool" became a radio hit by early 1997, and First Band on the Moon
eventually reached gold status in America, as well as platinum certification in Japan (just three weeks after its release). Gran Turismo
followed in 1998, though it lacked an obvious hit and led to a long hiatus for the band. Finally, the Cardigans
returned in 2003 with Long Gone Before Daylight
, marking a clear transition with confessional material closer to the singer/songwriter tradition. Super Extra Gravity
followed in 2005.