The Soderberg sisters’ ability to wonderfully capture/recreate the sound of Americana may almost seem unfair given their Swedish origins, but First Aid Kit’s (@firstaidkitband) The Lion’s Roar is too sweet to stay bitter for long. Johanna and Klara’s voices blend together in a harmony only possible from people of similar genetic background, and this is the focus of the duo’s second full-length album. The songs are all simple, traditional folksy sing-a-longs that serve to showcase their incredible vocal sound.
A comparison to Fleet Foxes certainly seems appropriate — not only have the girls used the folk revivalists to jump-start their career (they first gained attention after a cover of “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” appeared on YouTube in 2008), but The Lion’s Roar follows a similar auditory path taken by many Fleet Foxes songs. Strummed guitars, an emphasis on vocal harmonies, and simple song structures make up the bulk of the sounds showcased here.
The album starts off strong with title track “The Lion’s Roar”, which showcases a more aggressive attitude than the remainder of the album. The girls show their knowledge of American roots music on second track “Emmylou”, referencing the singing partnerships of Emmylou Harris + Gram Parsons and Johnny Cash + June Carter Cash in front of a swirling melody line of a sliding, twangy guitar. From there, The Lion’s Roar takes a bit of a dive. While there are interesting and enjoyable bits in songs “Blue” and “This Old Routine,” after a while the tone becomes a bit monotonous. The Soderbergs have established that they have strong folk craftsmanship and beautiful singing voices, but they never really expand beyond that. As a result The Lion’s Roar hits a bit of a lull. Thankfully, though, everything ends on a high note. The final song is “King Of The World”, a more upbeat and playful tune that features a verse sung by previous collaborator Conor Oberst.
First Aid Kit’s sophomore album is full of pleasurable songs, but also a lot of forgettable moments. Overall, it’s worth your time to give it a listen and sift through the sand to find those gems.