First Aid Kit
The Lion's Roar


4.5
superb

Review

by Ali CONTRIBUTOR (130 Reviews)
January 19th, 2012 | 61 replies | 9,120 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Swedish sisters take a significant step up the folk pecking order.

When First Aid Kit emerged from the shadows with their Drunken Trees EP almost four years ago, you always got the impression that their name was set to stick around for the considerable future. Ok, that debut release and subsequent album The Big Black And The Blue did pass by largely without fuss, but such was the obvious talent at work it didn't take much working out that Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg were destined for bigger things. As such, it comes as little surprise that they've pulled the stops with this sophomore effort, building expertly upon their strengths all while snuffing out what few weaknesses they had, with the end product being something of a modern folk classic.

That statement alone indicates that The Lion's Roar is a cut above anything that the duo have mustered to date, but even that struggles to justify just how big a step forward this record is. The Big Black And The Blue was populated largely by standard fireside folk tunes, which although by no means outstanding had more than enough charm and consistency to get by. Here, though, they've upscaled their ambitions dramatically, with a collection of immaculately written songs which expand upon each and every positive trait they have going for them. It's a similar balance between a basic folk aesthetic and advanced pop songwriting that Bright Eyes achieved with Cassadaga, but make no mistake, this is a record that has First Aid Kit's mark stamped all over it, something that's always clear in spite of the progress they've made.

The pair of singles which introduce the album make this apparent right from the off, with both representing a momentous step up from anything they've produced until this point. The title track which opens proceedings not only displays a vastly expanded instrumental pallet (a feature which is fully utilised throughout all ten tracks), but also a heightened focus on dynamics, with an ever altering pace complementing the more memorable and direct choruses to great effect. Following track 'Emmylou' is even better, bearing many of the same characteristics but wrapping them tightly in the duo's trademark layers of loveliness with the end result being arguably their finest song to date. With both being relatively upbeat, that opening pair immediately pose a question as to whether the sisters have lightened up, but as [i]The Lion's Roar[i/] progresses it becomes obvious that what has in fact happened is rather a sharpening of the extremes. To state it simply, the happy songs are happier, and the sad songs are sadder, though this does little to curb the record's cohesion, something that's evident by the fact that the irresistibly chirpy 'Blue' and its somewhat more reflective neighbour 'This Old Routine' can sit side by side in perfect harmony.

Gloriously sprightly closer 'King Of The World' provides another highlight, ending things in the best way possible, and even throwing up another Bright Eyes connection in the form of a fantastic guest appearance from Conor Oberst. It's ironic that this track will inevitably be given the most attention, as this is a record which trumps everything that Oberst has produced with Bright Eyes, or for that matter any of his other projects for a good seven years, and that alone should give you an idea of it's quality. An early musical touchstone for 2012, The Lion's Roar has the potential to be the making of First Aid Kit, and with a little justice and exposure should cement the sisters as a force to be reckoned with in the modern folkesphere.



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user ratings (121)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 19th 2012



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Also posted at http://www.muzikdizcovery.com/

Streaming here http://www.npr.org/2012/01/15/144966888/first-listen-first-aid-kit-the-lions-roar

Doing my best to spread word of this, it really deserves some attention. If you have any interest in folk music whatsoever then it's an essential listen. It's a 4 for me but I can see there being a lot of 4.5's if enough people listen to this.

FelixCulpa
January 19th 2012



1237 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah this is some great folk. Love their voices. Nice review as well Ali.
Also one of their Swedish live date this year was announced and it's in my town which is pretty
darn sweet.

Edit: Hmm can't rate this nor add album art.




AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 19th 2012



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks man, glad you liked it. I'd love to see them live so needless to say I'm jealous.

Also I'd appreciate it if a mod uploaded the album art, it doesn't seem to like what I've added.

Adabelle
January 19th 2012



4233 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Maybe they could turn you into a contributor while they're at it.

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
January 19th 2012



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Had my eye on this one. Will definitely check it out.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
January 19th 2012



15341 Comments


I have given this listens in bits and pieces and its pretty nice

Good review btw

Digging: Astronauts - Hollow Ponds

zxlkho
January 19th 2012



3460 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I'm checking this out right now. Hope it's good.

Horsehammer
January 20th 2012



550 Comments


im into folk, so ill check this out

zxlkho
January 20th 2012



3460 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

It was alright. I'll listen again, but I wasn't too thrilled about it.

jackalope11
January 20th 2012



330 Comments


Those recs are perfect, album totally reminds me of Cassadaga.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 20th 2012



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Ali, curious how an A corresponds to 4.0? Woulda expected the grade here to be much higher, at least a 4.5. But I don't know how your scores correspond."

I'm always a harsh marker on here. Put it this way, if 95% of the sputnik population liked the WU LYF record as much as I do, they'd have it as a 5, but I only have it as a 4.5. This may get a bump in the future, though.


ConsiderPhlebas
January 20th 2012



6157 Comments


Cool review. Need to hear this.

MalleusMaleficarum
January 20th 2012



13855 Comments


swedish sisters

*faps*

Digging: Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty

Knott-
Emeritus
January 20th 2012



10194 Comments


Well hellooooooo this first song is mighty good.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 20th 2012



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Better to come...

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
January 20th 2012



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm not big into my folk-y type stuff but this was enjoyable. I prefer the more downbeat tunes on here if i'm honest.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 20th 2012



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah I probably do too, though I love pretty much everything here other than perhaps In The Hearts Of Men.

HBFS
January 23rd 2012



1218 Comments


the recommended on the side makes me quite excited to listen to this. saw the clip of them playing that patti smith song and making her cry, pretty intense stuff

Digging: Jamie xx - Girl/Sleep Sound

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 23rd 2012



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Please do, this needs more attention!

Sheriff
January 25th 2012



3 Comments


Extremely well crafted album, each song blends nicely. The Swedish sisters haven't disappointed! Well written review too!



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