CD Review: A Camp 'Colonia'

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Friday, May 22, 2009

A CAMP "Colonia"

Kindred spirits: Dionne Warwick, the Shangri-las, Abba Show: Thursday at the 9:30 club. Doors open at 7 p.m. 202-265-0930.

Musically, A Camp's second album owes as much to Broadway musicals as it does to rock, even the smooth pop-rock of Swedish singer Nina Persson's full-time band, the Cardigans. So it's fitting that "Colonia" finds Persson playing a series of roles, often as the disenchanted lover. Her tales of romantic distress must be fiction, since the group's newest recruit is former Shudder to Think guitarist Nathan Larson, Persson's husband.

A Camp debuted in 2001 as a country-influenced side project for Persson and Atomic Swing's Niclas Frisk. The new album's lusher, more theatrical sound shows Larson's influence, but the barbed lyrics are all Persson. Most of the songs are about love, which is either "Stronger Than Jesus" (as one song title claims) or a major bummer.

The album winds down disappointingly in its final third, with sketchy songs and a fragmentary instrumental. Before that, however, the trio shows its command of such '60s styles as girl-group pop and Burt Bacharach-style balladry with, respectively, "Here Are Many Wild Animals" and "Love Has Left the Room." "The past is over/But I can't get sober," laments Persson in the latter. The desolation may be feigned, but she delivers the lines as if they're real.

-- Mark Jenkins

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