Sunday, 28 January 2018

First Aid Kit "Ruins" (2018)

Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna return for their fourth full length record, one I have highly anticipated as their previous release, Stay Gold, resonated with me deeply. Its such a joyous record that has provided me with much warmth in the few years since I discovered it, as much to say it would undoubtedly make a favorite albums of all time list. With the stakes set high and a familiar sound the duo show their influences boldly on a strong and unsurprisingly luscious album with a sense of era and character about it, the album cover reinforcing this concept with a striking chromatic gesture labled by its staple mark seventies font. You wouldn't blink an eyelid if you found this floating around in a box of old crinkled vinyl sleeves.

Ruins comes on strong with more Americana and Country influences the two wear on their sleeves. The slick country tang guitar accents in the opening songs set a strong southern undercurrent amidst a sweet and warm production full of rich instruments. Fleshing out the acoustic strumming, strings, country pianos, additional guitars and wholesome percussion enriches these simple heart felt folk songs. Often complimentary there is a couple of moments where it takes lead over their voices which, as we know, are soft, heavenly and the soul of the music.

Hem Of Her Dress embodies a flaw with this record. A rousing scream mid sentence feels out of place as the sentiment of the song falls misplaced. It slowly builds intensity to an eruption of group singing that lacks charm and a sense of purpose, perhaps in this moment their influences border imitation as the lyrics, in this song and others, feel recreational of the genre's known characteristics. That got me thinking about how little of the lyrics stuck in my mind. Stay Gold was like an introspective awakening, coming to embrace life's finite and ever changing experience, ever lyric offering a wealth of seniority. It felt from the heart where as Ruins references whisky, interstate highways and other topics steeped in a different familiarity.

I'm sad to say this one hasn't struck a chord with me, Its opening tracks start out strong and Fireworks has some surreal moonlight singing to tug at your heartstrings but as the record stretches on the spark fizzles out as the southern country feel outpaces the songwriting. Although a stunning sounding record, their beautiful voices only go so far to make these songs work. The lyrics don't resonate and so a very pretty sounding record dulls as it stretches on. Its unfortunate but that's just how I heard this one.

Favorite Track: Fireworks
Rating: 6/10