ACamp’s Colonia opens with the deceptively regal “The Crowning,” in which swine and boars are slaughtered—and virgins deflowered—in honor of some brute’s “big head.” Lyrics like “Let’s raise our glasses/To murderous asses like you” point to a political figure and not a disgraced lover, further evidenced by the album’s loaded but ambiguous title. There’s a decidedly cynical underpinning to the rest of the album as well, from the anti-love anthem “Stronger Than Jesus” to the eloquent “Love Has Left the Room,” songs reminiscent of the gorgeous Long Gone Before Daylight, the 2004 release by the Cardigans—who, according to Colonia‘s press notes, saw “crazy success in the roaring ‘90s” and whose Nina Presson, along with her husband Nathan Larson and Niclas Frisk, just so happens to comprise one-third of A Camp. Larson and Frisk’s music is often just as opulent Presson’s lyrics; Colonia is what pop music might have sounded like in the era of gaslights and guillotines. “Bear on the Beach” features some lovely mid-verse key changes and choral ornamentation, but while the song begs for a lavish coda (something on which the Cardigans no doubt would have capitalized), A Camp instead opts for restraint. That discipline is further exemplified by the lone brass embellishment at the end of “Golden Teeth and Silver Medals,” a duet between Persson and fellow Swede Nicolai Dunger that’s as worthy of a little gilded gramophone as any of Alison Krauss and Robert Plant’s recent collaborations. The band employs a more modern sound on the Fleetwood Mac-esque “Chinatown” and the ‘60s-pop-inspired “Here Are Many Animals (“ooo-wee-ooo” vocal stylings and handclaps abound), but there’s only one serious flub amid the album’s beguiling strings and all the talk of letters in bottles and great floods, and that’s “My America,” the by-the-numbers radio-rock of which sticks out like a bald head amid a room full of powdered wigs.
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