First Aid Kit - Stay Gold (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
FROM the opening moments of First Aid Kit’s third album, Stay Gold, you know you’re in for something quite, well, golden.
Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg have once again worked with Mike Mogis (who collaborated on the equally brilliant The Lion’s Roar) as well as Nate Walcott (Broken Bells, Rilo Kiley) whose cinematic string arrangements lend the album an even greater cinematic sweep to augment its folk-pop sound.
Hence, the intricate, Eastern flavoured strings of opening track and former single My Silver Lining provide a wonderful entry point. The chorus also brings in something of an atmospheric vibe, too, lending some grit and moodiness to the underlying beauty of the song as a whole.
Yet the quality is maintained on the track that follows, Master Pretender, which unfolds amid a lovely acoustic guitar riff and a sense of innocence in the lyrics (“I always thought I was free…”).
Title track Stay Gold is similarly evocative, questioning the nature of relationships over some lush instrumental arrangements that bring to life some of the more enviromental lyrics (sunrises and moon-scapes).
There’s a dusky blues vibe on Cedar Lane that ushers in a slightly more melancholy section of the album, setting the tone for the desolate, yet strangely optimistic Shattered & Hollow, which unfolds amid a sparse, atmospheric backdrop while dropping lines like “I would rather be broken than empty, oh I’d rather be shattered and hollow”. It’s quietly emotionally compelling and utterly heartbreaking.
There’s more upbeat folk-pop just around the corner, however, on the whimsical Waitress Song, which flirts with the idea of pursuing other professions (complete with lush folk-acoustics) and Heaven Knows, which drops one of the most vigorous and invigorating country-rock vibes on the LP (think a female Johnny Cash mixed with the Everly Brothers).
A Long Time Ago, however, draws the album to a close with a pensive piano ballad that is utterly beguiling and somehow perfect.
First Aid Kit have delivered another LP to savour.
Download picks: My Silver Lining, Stay Gold, Waitress Song, Shattered & Hollow, Heaven Knows