Four years into their career, Swedish sister duo First Aid Kit (Johanna Söderberg and Klara Söderberg) return with distilled and purified sound. Considering their impact so far, it is perhaps no surprise that the pair have managed to land themselves in the presence of one of the most dazzling indie producers of the 21st century, Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Tilly & The Wall, She & Him, The Concretes, Julian Casablancas). It is also no surprise that the new record drifts from the original First Aid Kit sound to a more instrumentally efficient production. Mogis’ tendencies have always been to conserve his act’s interests and inspirations, emphasis on the artists’ key elements and delivery – but do the sisters match this producer’s trend?
‘In the Hearts of Men’ would answer that question positively. Commencing with a smooth, Nick Drake-like acoustic strum, followed by a two-note flute piece streaming aside; this seems to be the typical aesthetic vibe of the sisters but seconds later a soft tom-roll creates the near-perfect catalyst in the upsurge of the song’s amplification. Certainly the production emphasis is on a cleaner and more condensed focus on the instrumentals, but the vocals have altered too – replacing their previously organic feel with a more studio driven, reverb drenched approach. Even though it sounds all the more harmonious here, it does, however, eschew the naturalism of their previous work.
Despite the awkward vocal quiver here and there, faults elsewhere are ornamented by upgraded and enhanced lyricism of the two. Whether it’s the dour-like ‘Dance To Another Tune’, or the serene ‘To A Poet’, The Lion’s Roar is lyrical ambience in motion. First Aid Kit is prominent for the tranquil, campfire furnishing in their music. They do so again, except this time the young Söderbergs move beyond the expectations of the listener with a bit more zing.