Album Reviews

First Aid Kit – The Big Black And The Blue

(Wichita) UK release date: 25 January 2010


First Aid Kit - The Big Black And The Blue On face value, Johanna and Klara Söderberg – 19 and 16 respectively – shouldn’t have blackened hearts or a taste of bitterness in their mouths. But First Aid Kit‘s brand of Sweden-bred folk portrayed in The Big Black And The Blue suggests otherwise.

Take Hard Believer for starters. Jolly, simplistic major chords and full teeth smiles are swept aside by the dismissal of religion and the admittance that “time is rough on me”. Their (albeit limited range of) guitar playing takes the polar opposite direction to their lyrics and the sisters come off as a pair very experienced in the hardships of modern life.

Folk with a touch of melancholy took a surge when bands such as Midlake and Fleet Foxes (whose material the girls have covered) rose to considerable acclaim over the past decade. Their acoustic-centred take on atypically bright and sunny genre looks set to remain in the public eye, but while it’d be startlingly obvious to dismiss First Aid Kit as naive and inexperienced in such company, they avoid such criticism by scattering references to sadness and regret across this, their first full length album. This approach has more of an impact given that both singer-songwriters are so tender and young. Their voices match like jigsaw pieces, naturally; a sisterly combination, one husky and grieving, one light and fluffy.

Waltz For Richard tells of a lover departing by sea, cynically asking “Of course I was going to lose you. Were you ever even there?” In A Window Opens they quip: “I would just like to stay here, and not say a word, maybe I’d see it in clarity, for I’d say nothing at all”. The artwork accompanies this loss of hope perfectly; a lone child stands, lute in hand, vacantly looking to one side as a blackened sea and domineering lt yellow moon sit grimly in the background.

What many of us forget is that being a teenager can be the toughest of times. By the sounds of it, both sisters have been through their fair share of break-ups, and they have, with guts, allowed this platform of a debut album to express their beaten and battered-at thoughts. The result is a collection of remarkably accomplished songs.With age, their early lyrical maturity can only blossom.


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