As lead singer of Swedish pop sweethearts The Cardigans, Nina Persson had a seductive talent for lyrics wrapped in off-kilter melodies. It was like biting into candy floss laced with arsenic. After two albums with A Camp and numerous collaborations (notably with The Manics and Sparklehorse/Danger Mouse), her knack for sweet melancholia hasn't deserted her on this strong debut solo album.
Animal Heart may have been written in a haze of domestic bliss and new motherhood but it's riddled with self-doubt and songs questioning her motivations and aims.
Like a less sullen Nancy Sinatra, Nina casts a cool eye on various romantic positions. She's sweet and lonesome on Burning Bridges for Fuel and she pines for solitude on Dreaming of Houses but Food for The Beast does that Cardigans thing of sounding bright but sinister as if something is lurking just out of sight.
Persson's eye for a quirky phrase is still intact too: she’s "face down on the floor of the discotheque" and she sings “I made eyes with a sailor with a burned-up hand, the cross-eyed singer of a bad boy band” on The Grand Destruction Game, a song as intriguing as its title.
Musically it's languid and Persson's voice is as cottony cute as ever with a real lightness of touch and a cool detachment. Best of all, Animal Heart is that rare thing - an album that gets better as it goes along.