Wednesday, January 18, 2012

First Aid Kit: "The Lion's Roar" (album review)

What's the first thing you think of when you think of Swedish music?  It's twang isn't it?  What, it's not.  That may change when you listen to The Lion's Roar, the sophomore album from sister act First Aid Kit.

The duo, comprised of Klara and Johanna Soderberg, draw on the production talents of Bright Eyes' Mike Mogis for the record, out January 24th.

With big booming vocals that ring out in tormented echo, these ladies challenge even Neko Case on cuts like the methodically ominous "Dance To Another Tune" and the title track.

These Swedes have a positive side to them as well.  Wafting backing vocals make "In the Hearts of Men" a dreamy number.  "I Found a Way" is confident and self-affirming, both in theme and sound.

First Aid Kit aren't afraid to defy expectations, even those developed within a single song.  The cuddly sound of "Blue" is juxtaposed with the standoffish lyrics.  "To a Poet" begins its life as an introspective number before building to a triumphant climax which boast a tumbling drum line reminiscent of a young Larry Mullen Jr.

The album standout is undoubtedly "Emmylou", a frisky track that name drops legends Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, as well as Gram Parsons and the title's inspiration Emmylou Harris.  Not far behind is the closer "King of the World", a hootenanny of a track that feature vocals from Mogis' Bright Eyes cohort Conor Oberst.

So who said Sweden was only home to adorable dance-pop pixies and aging punk rockers?

First Aid Kit play the Great Hall in Toronto on April 4th.

Best tracks: "Emmylou", "King of the World"

Track listing for The Lion's Roar:
  • The Lion's Roar
  • Emmylou
  • In the Hearts of Men
  • Blue
  • This Old Routine
  • To a Poet
  • I Found a Way
  • Dance To Another Tune
  • New Year's Eve
  • King of the World

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