Home > Reviews > Album Reviews > First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar

First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar

Maria Turauskis

Triangle

Listening to First Aid Kit is always a slightly bizarre experience. Music by the Soderberg sisters is so irrevocably of another era that it is very easy to forget this is music by two very young Swedish girls. Like the group’s previous releases, The Lion’s Roar is awash with country folk influences from Gram Parsons to Fleetwood Mac, and each track (and indeed the girl’s whole vibe, within artwork, videos etc.) is saturated with 70s references; of kaftans, analogue film, and Technicolor suns suffuse with golden light. Among contemporaries the girl’s work could be filed next to the likes of Best Coast and The Pierces.

This album is the girls’ first be recorded in America – the clear spiritual home for their music. Produced by Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes, The Lion’s Roar features impeccably good production, incredibly evocative of the desired era. The sound of the album is far richer and stronger than First Aid Kit’s previous self-produced efforts, and sounds much more professional. The organisation of each instrument, and especially the way Mogis has mixed the vocals offers a more heightened sense of mystical, wistful melancholy that boosts the girls’ desire for bittersweet sentimentality within their music.

The girls’ voices are obviously the key focus for the album, with beautiful, haunting harmonies and an acute fragility. These vocals however do sound like cuts from the crypt, stylised exactly like a 1970s country folk track. They are slathered with reverb, peaking highs and a strange enunciation that is incredibly American and very, very far away from Stockholm. The instrumentation too offers a swamp of 1970s references, with positively prehistoric pedal steel guitars and vaguely honky-tonk pianos occurring frequently.

In many ways this is a very nice album, featuring some touching harmonies where vocals and instruments intertwine perfectly. When strings are involved especially, there is a souring, almost transcendental quality to the music, especially within tracks like To a Poet, and there are some enjoyable little ditties too, like King of the World.

Ultimately though this music is pure heritage. There is very little added to the great musical spectrum with The Lion’s Roar, other than pretty tracks. First Aid Kit are once again treading over ground that has been covered many times before. In purely visceral terms, this is a fine album, as is the girls’ work generally. But from a critical perspective the album is rather stale. There is nothing new here, indeed the main focus of the album is the over laboured 70s vibe, which The Lion’s Roar pushes almost to the point of exhaustion at times. As a new release, from girls so young it is all a bit surreal, and slightly disappointing.