I’m trying to relegate the recent revelation that David Cameron is a fan of First Aid Kit right to the back of my mind, for fear it might somewhat sully my enjoyment. Two tracks in, however, all thoughts of the Bullingdon Boy have practically disappeared and the demons have been all but exorcised. And you know what? I am truly grateful for that!
Closer in feel to the Swedish sisters’ 2012 masterpiece The Lion’s Roar than its glossier follow up, Stay Gold, two years later, Ruins does, regardless, seem a lot less bleak than what has gone before, especially when swathed in the radiant pedal steel of the brilliant ‘Postcard‘, or, perhaps even better, on the sweeping magnificence of the gorgeous finale, ‘Nothing Has To Be True‘. True to form though, the siblings continue to juxtapose the tragic with the beautiful, as has been their wont from the beginning, along the way somehow turning it into something powerfully optimistic instead; hence, on the latter track, we get the opening lyric of “Each and every breath we take, a step towards death, and the moon is pale / And we might have seen something…but we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
It’s never been difficult to work out which artists First Aid Kit have been inspired by the most – heck, they even spelled it out for us in the chorus of ‘Emmylou‘ a few years back, but it seems now, more than ever, they have become scarily adept at emulating the sounds of those to whom they are paying homage. So it is then that the aforementioned ‘Postcard‘ evokes the ghosts of both Townes Van Zandt and Gram Parsons, a fact aleady acknowledged by Klara and Johanna themselves, while the more uptempo ‘It’s A Shame‘ still delivers that same aura of melancholy.
There’s a rustic charm about many of the tracks here, so title track ‘Ruins‘ feels like winter evenings gathered around a campfire, while ‘Fireworks‘ is like a comfort blanket around your shoulders on a cold, dark night, yet with lyrics bordering on Morrissey at his most introspective, self pitying best: “Why do I do this to myself every time? / I know the way it ends before it’s even begun / I am the only one at the finish line.”
First Aid Kit have come a long way since I first caught them at Leicester’s Summer Sundae Weekender when they were barely out of their school gym slips, but even then, it was very apparent that there was something special about them. I’m glad to say they’ve kept the magic.
Ruins is released on 19th January through Columbia.