The Lion’s Roar is the second offering from Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg, aka First Aid Kit.
Despite their youthful age, it has been clear ever since album number one, The Big Black And The Blue two years ago, that this duo are far wiser and adroit than there ages would suggest. Their lyrics are reflective and conscious and they draw similarities to Laura Marling, in the way that they create something which seems way beyond their years. Moreover, this second album displays a growth in sound; moving on from what was chiefly orientated around their lush harmonies, the sisters have now expanded to a full band with a grander sound.
Of course, the producer of this record certainly has played his part in advancing First Aid Kit. Mike Mogis, of Bright Eyes fame and much more, has given the new album a great deal of texture; allowing the girls to mix their stunning vocals and harmonies, a key feature once again, with a greater plethora and choice of instruments.
The Lion’s Roar begins with a track of the very same title, growling with spirit and drive, which highlights this said progress in sound and maturity. Though not exactly sombre, there is however a certain feel of melancholy at times, throughout this album. Tracks such as To A Poet and Dance To Another Tune begin with deep and dark melodies, but then both rise to triumphant climaxes. Thus, the sisters and Mogis have drawn a fantastic balance between a record of fundamental anguish, and a record that is genuinely warm and beautiful.
The track Blue, for example, is a lovely little song with rich, dreamy, head-nodding instrumentals, despite it’s obviously juxtaposed lyrics. And their second single Emmylou is a positively glorious number, that displays their overpowering love of Americana, Folk and Country, which has clearly been a huge influence on their music and songwriting. Even songs such as In The Hearts Of Men and New Year’s Eve show signs of their past work and give heart-warming nods to their Swedish background.
And then there’s the album closer, King Of The World. If one ever needed a pick-up, this is the track to pop on. Co-written by, and featuring, the genius Conor Oberst, it is a gorgeous little number brimming with fast-paced acoustics, ukulele, fiddles, brass and accordion….everything needed to end a record in style!
The Lion’s Roar is certainly a step in the right direction for the Söderberg sisters and is an album that one cannot wait to see performed live. Though there are lulls at times, and people are likely to have their favourites rather than love the album in it’s entirety, the duo have kept hold of what they love most, without shying away from expanding their sound and talent. One must again recall their ages at this moment and highlight once more, how unique it is to find acts of this calibre, maturity and enthusiasm, despite being only 19 and 22. Having already toured with Bright Eyes and Lykke Li late last year, 2012 is likely to be a huge year for First Aid Kit, and that would be very much deserved.