Album Reviews

First Aid Kit – Drunken Trees EP

(Wichita) UK release date: 23 February 2009

First Aid Kit - Drunken Trees EP For ladies of such tender years, the Swedish sisters that are First Aid Kit have made a deep and varied debut EP full of variety and catchy tunes. The likes of Laura Marling and Kitty, Daisy And Lewis have taught us that age is about as important as haircuts these days. The fact that Johanna and Klara Söderberg from Stockholm didn’t even grace this earth until 1990 and 1993 respectively doesn’t mean a thing.

Just listen to the graceful, warm and roomy piano that opens first track Full Moon. Okay, so the chatty intro is a little teenaged, but as soon as the singing begins, you’re drawn into their sweet innocence, their pretty harmonised voices and the simple melodies that make this debut so listenable. It’s almost possible to imagine them perfecting their songs in bedrooms adorned with cuddly toys and posters on the walls.

You’re Not Coming Home Tonight, a song about the perils of working and family life, has a gorgeous country vibe with a Texas-rich baseline and a tune so catchy you’ll find yourself bopping along the pavement with it repeating in your head for days.

The girls’ finest moment has to be the eerie and sublime Jagadamba, You Might, with its minimalist plucked guitar, ’50s vocal production and an almost American blues melody reminiscent of Jolie Holland. The sisters’ voices merge together wonderfully and it’s certainly a stand out track.

That’s not to say the others aren’t great too, but they lack the maturity that could make them something really special. Our Own Pretty Ways is a great folk-pop song, but as with some of the other tracks, the occasional vocal twinge and exaggerated pronunciation can be a little embarrassing. But some of them work brilliantly, especially when the harmonies go off in different directions rather than staying in the safety zone.

Growing up with the likes of Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears has rubbed off to a degree – the vocals have moments of subtlety and softness that work wonderfully well, but sometimes they can be a little strained, at at these moments they lose some of their beauty, like in the Fleet Foxes cover of Tiger Mountain Peasant Song (the film of the girls singing it in the forest on YouTube) is actually really lovely, but maybe sung a bit too harshly on record) and the rockier Cross Oceans.

Comparisons to such artists as Joanna Newsom, Karen Dalton and Devendra Banhart, mainly in the singing styles, also stands up, although they still have a fair old way to go until they’re matching them in the songwriting department.

However, the amount of radio play First Aid Kit have received in the past few months only goes to show that the world loves a simple pop song by a group that has more than an ounce of musical talent. This really is a most promising debut, offering the prospect of better things to come as they develop over the next year or two.

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More on First Aid Kit
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First Aid Kit @ Roundhouse, London
First Aid Kit, Ibeyi, Marlon Williams… This Week In Gigs
First Aid Kit – Ruins
First Aid Kit – Stay Gold