First Aid Kit, Stay Gold

Dan Hyman

By Dan Hyman

on 06.10.14 in Reviews

Stay Gold

First Aid Kit

Though the sister-act of Klara and Johanna Söderberg are quite young — both are in their early 20s — it’s hard not to picture them as weathered, yarn-spinning old American women, so wise are the characters that populate their songs. Their lyrics often scan as proverbs, lessons learned from a life battling dusty storms and rotten men.

Reaching for a grander sound with more emotional heft

With their major-label debut Stay Gold, First Aid Kit have created an album as rich and detailed as the songs’ protagonists. Building on the steely vocal interplay that characterized 2012′s The Lion’s Roar, on Gold the duo reach for a grander sound, employing a 13-piece backing orchestra, tighter harmonies, bigger choruses and mountains more emotional heft.

The duo shines brightest when they use beatific country melodies to mask somber sentiments. On the opening “My Silver Lining,” the Söderbergs are “tired of looking for answers,” but counter that weariness with the catchiest riff they’ve yet written. On the lush title track, the pair wonder if life’s simple pleasures — you know, hugs and high-fives — are gonna cut it. “What if to love and to be loved is not enough?” they wonder, over lilting strings and a gentle, Fleet Foxes-style guitar figure. The charming potency of their earlier work — most notably those high-flying harmonies – remains. But this go-round feels decidedly more urgent than any of the duo’s past output. Time may be on their side but First Aid Kit are too wise to waste any of it.