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First Aid Kid - The Big Black And The Blue

First Aid Kit, The Big Black And The Blue

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

HIGH hopes abound for First Aid Kit, aka Johanna and Klara Söderberg, who hail from Sweden and peddle an alternative kind of folk.

On the evidence of The Big Black And The Blue, however, they may have to work a little harder to fully capture the public’s imagination. As debut LPs go, it shows plenty of potential, as well as some really duff notes.

The most amazing thing about them, however, is the depth of emotion and darkness they generate in their songwriting – despite being only 19 and 16 respectively.

Songs like Hard Believer and Sailor Song tackle religion and romantic yearning in deeply mature fashion, often providing a sobering comedown from the mostly upbeat music. Those two tracks, in particular, rate among the album highlights.

Occasionally, however, they decide to strip things too far down and let their strangely world-weary, occasionally winesome vocals take centre stage. Album opener In The Morning is a particularly painful entry point – a worrying one, in fact, that could put people off from the outset.

There’s more of a hick sensibility than a Swedish one – and the winesome, depressing, almost mournful vocals are hard work.

Fortunately, Hard Believer follows it and the warm folk guitar licks are a welcome pick-me-up, while the vocals refrain from being dreary. It’s a real album saver at that point.

Elsewhere, Heavy Storm builds from a wonderfully laidback acoustic guitar riff that serves as a nice bed for another heavy-hearted tale of lapsed ambition – “I wish I could believe in something bigger and more than these trees” – and A Window Opens drops a lush instrumental, folksy backdrop over more pensive lyrics.

Winter Is All Over You and I Met Up With The King repeat the trick and are also highlights on an album that is brimming with potential and fine moments.

Alas, there is a but… and it’s that too much of First Aid Kit can be slightly depressing, while their tendency to revert back to those not entirely successful vocals can be a weakness. They’re undoubtedly an act to keep an eye on though.

Download picks: Hard Believer, Sailor Song, Heavy Storm, I Met Up With The King, Winter Is All Over You

Track listing:

  1. In The Morning
  2. Hard Believer
  3. Sailor Song
  4. Waltz For Richard
  5. Heavy Storm
  6. Ghost Town
  7. Josefin
  8. A Window Opens
  9. Winter Is All Over You
  10. I Met Up With The King
  11. Wills Of The River