notnicolajames

“The Lion’s Roar” by First Aid Kit – Missing the forest girls

They became youtube-stars after walking into a forest and singing a Fleet Foxes tune in harmony. Now the Swedish sisters First Aid Kit have their second album out – and they have grown up.

Any fan of the Fleet Foxes will remember the youtube video in which Johanna and Klara from Sweden walked into a forest, brought their guitar and sang the “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” (2008). It created quite a media hype around the folksy, acoustic singers, and it’s one of the best female duets I know.

After their debut album The Big Black & The Blue (2010) they toured, sang background on an Ane Brun album, and now they just released The Lion’s Roar (2012).

The album is a good, solid piece of folk music. Most striking and distinctive is the voice of the younger sister, Klara (with the bangs), as well as the wonderful harmonies that work so well when Johanna with her darker voice joins in. Similar to the recent Ane Brun and Fleet Foxes albums (Helplessness Blues), the intensive drums play a bigger role in some of the songs.


My three favourite songs on the album

The Lion’s Roar” is exciting and memorable, and it’s clearly the strongest and most mature song on the album. But I actually quite like “To a poet“: It shows that Klara’s voice is most beautiful when she sings in a more soft, tender and pronounced way. The song also benefits from less instruments, especially in the beginning (It’s similar to “New Year’s Eve” where you can also hear more variation in Klara’s voice). “King of the world” has great story telling. It’s cheerful and sounds just like a bunch of people having fun while jamming.


Missing the forest girls

The other songs aren’t bad, but not extremely memorable either (maybe I have to listen more often to the album). Some tunes seem to show that the sisters had a full band at hand, and lots of stuff was packed into the songs which made them “bigger” than I find necessary. It sounds nearly a bit too professional, like many of those folk/indie albums out there, and I miss the rawness of just the harmonies and simple guitar on the album. I could have done with more “girls in a forest” and less “professional production with reverbs”.

Did you hear Jefferson Airplane?

Emmylou” is not as exciting as some other songs, but the harmonies are especially lovely in this one. It’s a bit too country inspired for my taste. “In the Hearts of Men” reminds me of Jefferson Airplane in the middle (around 3:00). “Blue” is a really good song because it combines a funny, happy melody with sad lyrics (here’s a live version). “This old routine” is greatest at 1:30m where the harmonies go higher and higher, it’s heavenly, really.

Weaker songs

I find “Found a way” rather boring, while “Dance to another tune” sounded pretty much like Fleet Foxes (also the drums), and the end of the song is way overdone. It felt like a huge ending was attached to a weak song – which doesn’t really work for me.


Touring

All in all this is an enjoyable album and I will try and get tickets for their UK tour. I have a feeling that the essence of First Aid Kit will come out more when I hear them live rather than in this slightly “over”produced album.

Other Reviews

  • http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/16205-the-lions-roar/
  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/629p
  • http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2012/01/first-aid-kit-the-lions-roar.html
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    4 thoughts on ““The Lion’s Roar” by First Aid Kit – Missing the forest girls

    1. yee, saw them last week at Rough Trade and can’t wait to see them in London on 23. (I am secretly in love with Johanna and I am going to ask her to marry me :D).
      I kind of feel the same way as you about their albums, but all the new songs are great live…I always watch their sessions on youtube instead of listening to the records, it’s so much better.
      I miss the forest girls too (the own pretty ways video in particular, kills me every time), and I am becoming so jealous because they were my little secret and now everyone is going to know them :( well I guess it’s what they deserve (album is #1 in Sweden and selling well abroad). oh and Johanna was waay cuter with shorter hair :(
      ok that’s enough before I start whining like a little Justin Bieber girl fan : )

      • Hi David,
        thank you for this comment. I’m wondering if I should go to the London concert – it might be nice to see them while they are still not too famous. Although Klara has a more distinctive voice I find Johanna’s dark, warm voice beautiful. Maybe we meet in London :)
        Nicole

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