Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Cardigans: First Band on the Moon [Mercury, 1996]
Popper-than-thou aggregation backs cute blonde for fun and profit. Think Blondie. They're Swedish. Think Abba. They're Euroalt-by-default. Think, er, Bettie Serveert. Only nowadays, anythinger-than-thou commits you to that extra mile, so that these reformed metalheads make their Beatle move a la Black Velvet Flag. And since metalheads can really, how you say it, play their axes, they also score some funny Black Sabbath covers. As for the blonde, alt types were calling her dark even back when she was imitating a love doll. Me, I prefer her now that she's imitating a cynical young woman--especially since the metalheads provide dissonances suitable to her self-critical rhetoric, which greatly smartens their flute and tinkle. B+