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First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar
First Aid Kit, aka Swedish twins, Johanna and Klara Söderberg, are making music well beyond their years of maturity. We do live in a new world, and what started in 2008 as a YouTube sensation covering Fleet Foxes’ ‘Tiger Mountain Peasant Song’ (Klara would have only been 15 at the time according to Wikipedia) ended up allowing the pair to tour with that same band, and then the rest of the world (the pair recently played alongside the likes of Bon Iver and Deathcab For Cutie at this year’s Wellington Arts Festival).
The duo’s angelic voices are almost identical and this is their trump card. The twins’ partnered harmonies swirl together, along with the slide guitars, dixie xylophones and thudding percussion littered throughout the record’s ten tracks.
With a medley of traditional songs based on American/British folk and roots music it does make you wonder if the Swedish as a whole actually have their own musical forms. Maybe First Aid Kit are just catering to an English-speaking market (along with other Scandinavian counterparts such as pop diva Robyn, electro-freaks The Knife and the borderline Bob Dylan-esque The Tallest Man on Earth). Or maybe it doesn’t really matter; the artists named all play really good music.
The Lion’s Roar starts off with a stomping hiss through its title track, probably the record’s strongest, a big heart-tugging ballad displaying the usual lyrical fare to be expected from lovesick early twenty-somethings: “well I guess sometimes I wish you were a little more predictable/That I could read you just like a book For now I can only guess what's coming next By examining your timid smile”.
At the other end of record is another keeper, ‘King of the World’, a bounding track which tries to embody the tumbles and turns of life. Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes shows up in the last verse (a personal highlight), who I’m guessing helped write the song’s whimsical lyrics.
Despite some really strong moments, The Lion’s Roar can feel a bit hum drum at times. This is a genre of music that has a long history with some of the world’s greatest musicians playing along. Despite their obvious talent, I’m not sure First Aid Kit have added anything unique to this ‘world’, but the record is a lovely way to drift into a blissful Sunday afternoon slumber.
Theo Sangster, 2 May 2012
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