First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar [Album Review]

by oz on January 30, 2012

The problem with First Aid Kit is that their singing is so damn good that you’ll overlook their equally good songwriting.  The album opens with this verse on its title track:

Now the pale morning sings of forgotten things
She plays a tune for those who wish to overlook
the fact that they’ve been blindly deceived
By those who preach and pray and teach
But she falls short and the night explodes in laughter.

I fell in love with the debut album released by these Swedish sisters in 2010, but I was very nervous before listening to their sophomore release. In The Big Black & The Blue I could hear the commercial appeal in their look and sound, so in listening to The Lion’s Roar, I pressed play and squinted my eyes, waiting for impact. Other recent artists (not naming names) started with similar successful debuts and then followed with a change in direction that had their original fan base scratching their head. So the moment of truth – Are First Aid Kit heading into pop territory to grab the bubble gum teenie bop fans and their mothers?

I shouldn’t have second guessed First Aid Kit. Sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg delivered an album that trumps its triumphant debut and opens with two songs, the title track and Emmylou, that will be two of the best songs released on any album this year. My guilt really set in when first hearing “Emmylou,” a song that name drops American Country heroes:

I’ll be your Emmylou and I’ll be your June
If you’ll be my Gram and my Johnny too
No, I’m not asking much of you
Just sing, lit tle darling, sing with me

If more women in their teens and early twenties listened to Gram Parsons and Johnny Cash, the word “Snooki” may never have been uttered outside of Jersey and our vernacular and world would be better off.

Other favorites of mine are the heartbreaking “This Old Routine,” “To A Poet” and “Dance To Another Tune” all sung with perfection and infused with heavy emotions and a dash of darkness. But “I Found a Way” and “King of the World” lighten up the mood, the latter of which includes The Felice Brothers and Connor Oberst. In fact, The Lion’s Roar was recorded with producer Mike Mogis (of Bright Eyes and Monster Of Folk; producer of Cursive, Lightspeed Champion, Pete Yorn, and many others) in Omaha, NE and included a cast of Omaha-based musicians.

It’s the collaboration with these musicians – a full band – that takes The Lion’s Roar leaps ahead of it’s debut. It’s the songs and the ladies behind them that will make this one of the finest albums in 2012. With talent like this, I think First Aid Kit will manage to stay true to the music they love while also finding masses of adoring fans. You’ll find two videos below and if you like what you hear, jump over to download tracks from our live session with First Aid Kit.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary January 30, 2012 at 11:13 am

I am so with you on this one. I adore this album and have been singing “Emmylou” all week.

CD January 31, 2012 at 9:58 am

There’s a terrible kung fu movie (i have the mp3 sound clip, but can’t think of the movie name) whose only real redeeming quality is that the lead character’s name is “Fuk Yuh.” His special technique? The Lion’s Roar.

And thus, it all comes back to footwear.

Woody January 31, 2012 at 10:43 am

Emmylou is transcendent. If that tune isn’t in my top 10 for the year, then we’ve had one amazing year of music.

Also, Mike Mogis did a fantastic job on this album. Can’t say enough good things about his work here.

Lauren Helen February 3, 2012 at 10:31 am

“The problem with First Aid Kit is that their singing is so damn good that you’ll overlook their equally good songwriting.”
You nailed it! I was thinking EXACTLY the same thing the other day because I realized I didn’t really know the lyrics to the songs, I just listened to them. But it’s like poetry, really!

Love this feature, First Aid Kit are so brilliant!

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