One of the most pleasing pop groups of the '90s, the Cardigans' sugary confections would grow annoying very quickly if they weren't backed by great musicianship and clever arrangements. The band's 1995 breakout album Life reflected the Cardigans at their most saccharine -- the sunny disposition of vocalist Nina Persson being the major argument in favor -- and critics inserted the group into the space age pop revivalist camp. The Cardigans later proved that they were more difficult to pigeonhole, however.
Even the band's origins show that their later appearance was quite misleading; two heavy metal fanatics formed the group in October 1992 in Jonkoping, Sweden. Guitarist Peter Svensson met bassist Magnus Sveningsson in a hardcore group, though he had previously trained in music theory and jazz arranging. The two later grew tired of metal and decided to form a pop band with Nina Persson -- an art-school friend who had never sung professionally -- plus keyboard player Lars-Olof Johansson and drummer Bengt Lagerberg.
All five Cardigans moved into a small apartment in 1993 and began recording a demo tape, which entered the possession of producer Tore Johansson later that year. He liked what he heard and invited the group to record at his Malmö studio. Signed to the dance-oriented Stockholm label, the Cardigans released Emmerdale in May 1994. The single "Rise & Shine" became a hit on Swedish radio soon after the release of the LP, and a readers poll in Sweden's Slitz magazine voted Emmerdale the best album of 1994.