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First Aid Kit: Swedish Duo Lets Out a “Lion’s Roar”

Breena Williams | Saturday, February 4, 2012

If you’re a fan of folk music, you should definitely give First Aid Kit a listen. If you’re not familiar with them, the band is composed of sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg, who hail from a suburb of Stockholm, Sweden. After a successful American tour with their first album last year, the duo is back with their sophomore album “The Lion’s Roar.”

First Aid Kit can be thought of as the Justin Beiber of Europe, gaining notoriety after their cover of the Fleet Foxes’ “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” went viral in 2008. They later performed the song alongside the actual band in Holland. 

Their momentum continued with their EP release later that year, eventually crossing the Atlantic to take the American indie and folk scenes by storm. In 2011, they earned a place as one of the most talked about musical acts at the South by Southwest festival with songs off their first full-length album “Big Black & the Blue.”

The sisters caught the attention of American indie heavyweights such as Jack White and Bright Eyes front man Conor Oberst, their former tour mate who appears on this album in “King of the World.” Bright Eyes member and music producer Mike Mogis also took notice, stepping in to produce “The Lion’s Roar.”

Their music has been described as “haunting” and “melancholy” and they have been compared to their inspiration The Fleet Foxes more than a fair share of times. However, the most impressive quality of their music is its ability to resonate with listeners, connecting with our generation because they are of our generation. “Big Black & the Blue” earned solid marks from some of the music scene’s most discerning critics, and “Lion’s Roar” has so far proven to be even more popular. 

The 11-track album, released Jan. 24, has been praised by journalists for its mature sound. Johanna and Klara’s work is growing as they grow and reflects the feelings of triumph and resignation that accompanies young adulthood. Almost every track is strong, with a range of tones and feelings, taking the listener on a journey from heartache to self-assurance. No matter your mood, there will probably be a track on this album that suits you.

The album opens strong with the title track “The Lion’s Roar,” which showcases the lyric-writing abilities of the duo. The music is simple, foregrounding the lyrics, which tell a story of confusion, lessons learned, and the knowledge that comes with experience.

The heavily promoted single “Emmylou” is pure folksy goodness. The music itself feels influenced by Bright Eyes’ more recent work with a bluegrass undertone that works surprisingly well.

Perhaps the best cut on the album is the obligatory lost-love track “To a Poet,” in which the sisters slow down the pace of the album to embrace and accept the pain of loss and distance. The song doesn’t sugarcoat the way it feels to lose. The beauty of the track comes from the simplicity of the tune and the honesty of the lyrics — clearly one of the women is sharing an intensely personal experience.

Overall, “The Lion’s Roar” is a solid album, diverse in its themes and sounds and sure to please current fans of First Aid Kit while earning them new ones.


Contact Breena Williams at bwillia9@nd.edu