Missed The 50: First Aid Kit ‘The Lion’s Roar’
Missed The 50…
First Aid Kit
‘The Lion’s Roar’
Our Top 50 Albums Of 2012 list was pretty on the money, right? But for the glaring omission of these Swedish sisters and the absorbing, downright exquisiteness of their second album ‘The Lion’s Roar’, that is. But please, put down your pens and stop scribbling letters of complaint. We’re fully aware of how great the album is and, as the most-annoyed member of the writing team, the task has fallen to me to moan on your behalf. ‘The Lion’s Roar’ should, unequivocably, have been on our list.
In January, while the UK was being been blasted by blizzards in a ghastly cold snap, Söderberg siblings returned to warm our cockles. Produced lovingly by Bright Eyes’ multi-instrumentalist Mike Mogis, it was the perfect album to puncture the gloomy, austere, post-Christmas bloat and to melt our misery. Why? Well, its ominous beginning seems to understand and slowly sooth your rampant bout of Seasonal Affective Disorder. The title track’s solemn solo strums feel cinematic and the pounding floor tom-thumps evoke trudging footsteps down snow-sullied driveways; the decorations have been taken down; that box of chocs is mostly wrappers. It’s got an atmosphere of lingering sadness, that is until the refrain’s surge of self-deprecation “and I’m a goddamn coward, but then again so are you…”, which sounds like a triumph of resolve as it’s cooed over warm, jangly acoustics.
And that’s only the beginning. The sisters’ rich voices combine timelessly on ‘Emmylou’and are completed by the same age-old, whining pedal steel that Mogis instilled in ‘…Lavender Bridge’-era Lightspeed Champion. ‘In The Hearts Of Men’ is another that proves sweet not sickly – mainly because they while away the latter part of the song with carefree hollers that epitomise bohemian, youthful abandon. ‘This Old Routine’ could be the one clanger, yet somehow even here they deliver moments that hammer the heart – namely the high, tremulous hook at the top of the aching, longing chorus.
Without doubt, however, ‘Dance To Another Tune’ is the centrepiece. A rousing string-laden slow-burner that utilises the same desolate plucks as Lana Del Rey’s monster hit ‘Video Games’. Here, the sisters’ sinister sirensong and climbing percussion completely wash over you, only to then part and unveil a joyous chamber pop conclusion. Needless to say, it epitomises the record as a whole: bold, defiant and understatedly class.