The Cardigans

Long Gone Before Daylight, the Cardigans' fifth effort overall and the domestic version of last year's European-only release, is every bit the twilight affair hinted at in its title, amply stocked with the same sort of languid, lovestruck ballads that catapulted Norah Jones to fame two years ago. "Communication," "And Then You Kissed Me," and "Couldn't Care Less" find the band gently buttressing Nina Persson's sleepy, starry-eyed vocals with shimmering, subdued arrangements. The album's downcast demeanor, forlorn lyrics, and lethargic melodies suggest sedatives may in fact have been ingested ... and it's a potent prescription at that.

To the Cardigans' credit, they do manage on occasion to rouse themselves from this dreamy/dreary subterfuge. "A Good Horse," "For What It's Worth," and "Live and Learn" help fuel the mood with some much-needed rock and roll resolve, albeit momentarily. A bonus DVD loaded with videos, live footage, and interviews also ups the ante. However, it's the track grafted onto the American release, "For the Boys," that gives the album its best offering, an upbeat ending to a set dominated by melancholy musings. -- Lee Zimmerman

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