First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar
Review by Jack Foley
THE sophomore album from Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Soderberg, aka First Aid Kit, is a triumph.
Drenched in a winning mix of melancholy, soul-searching lyrics and upbeat melodies, the album is a richer, more mature listen than their debut and one that resonates on an emotional level. Yet, while certainly drenched in sorrow in places, it’s also somehow inspiring instrumentally.
Kicking off with title track and former single The Lion’s Roar, it immediately sets the template. Lyrically, it’s dark (“don’t you come here and say I didn’t warn you about the way your world can alter”), but there’s an appealing quality to the folksy strumming of the guitars and the melody-laden chorus.
The sisters enter country territory with the follow-up song, Emmylou, which admittedly finds them in more optimistic mode and pining for venues such as the Grand Ole Opry maybe.
But while impressive, they’re better when keeping within folk or pop realms. The sorrowful, soul-searching In The Heart of Men is beautifully lamentful, its lazy beat working well with its subdued electronics and lovely harmonising.
Blue, meanwhile, works in xylophone chimes and drops one of the breeziest efforts on the record to utterly charm, albeit with cautionary lyrics about giving too much of oneself. It’s a firm highlight.
On I Found A Way, the sisters sing “give me your love, give me your gun…. and so the morning came and swept the night away as I was looking for a way to disappear”… it combines the sweet and the sour to terrific effect, soaring during the harmonious chorus, yet tapping to that ever-present sadness.
Even at their most sombre and stark (the opening moments of Dance to Another Tune), there is something addictive about listening to what they have to say – the vocals often working in tandem with each other so well that it’s sometimes hard to realise there are two voices.
But every song registers in some way, with latter additions to the LP such as Wolf and the quietly optimistic, and utterly enchanting New Year’s Eve emerging as further album favourites (the quietly empowering lyricism of the latter track with its (“I know you just have to keep on trying…. that’s what’s going to save me” sentiments proving particularly affecting).
King of the World, meanwhile, brings things to a close far too soon with an upbeat, hand-clap laden song about independence and extolling one’s own positivity. It even contains some brass arrangements that ensure the mood upon exit is one of optimism.
Much like the rest of this terrific album, it’s also deeply memorable and evidence of a pair of songwriters at the very top of their game.
Download picks: The Lion’s Roar, In The Heart of Men, Blue, Wolf, New Year’s Eve