Picks and Pans Review: Gran Turismo

updated 11/16/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/16/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

The Cardigans (Mercury)

Not since ABBA has a band from Sweden made such a delightfully bubbly impact. (Unless, that is, you actually liked the treacly Ace of Base.) The Cardigans, from Jönkö ping, scored an unexpected radio hit with last year's "Lovefool," a fresh burst of jazz-pop fizz despite its saccharine "Love me, love me, say that you love me" chorus. On their followup disc, lead singer Nina Persson finally matches her group's unique retro-futuristic sound with appropriately tart lyrics. All the better to bolster her wry sentiments on "My Favourite Game," the album's hit-worthy first single, where she cleverly coos to a spurned lover, "I'm losing my baby/ You're losing a savior and a saint." Meanwhile, co-songwriter Peter Svensson's dark, whirring guitar work rescues even the band's kitschiest moments from seeming overly cute.

Admittedly, it's hard to get too worked up over such a frothy rock act dropping heavy bombshells like "Do you really think that love is going to save the world?/ Well, I don't think so." Yet, backed by such pleasurably pulsating music, Persson delivers other, more gossamer truths.

Bottom Line: Space-age Swedish lounge band takes it up a notch

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