First Aid Kit – Fireworks

“Still going strong.”

Tim: We’ve not featured First Aid Kit for a few years now, but the country pop duo are still going strong.

Tom: Somehow, that’s a surprise to me. I don’t know why; it’s probably the name, which sounds like someone said “hey, that’s a good name for a band” at completely the wrong time and it stuck.

Tim: Here’s the first one up from their new album.

Tim: Not sure why, but ever since I brought it up when we were discussing Perfect, I’ve found myself noticing a lot more songs in 12/8 or 6/8 time, and for some reason that’s joined the key change as a thing the immediately makes a song better. Not automatically good, but maybe bumping it from a 7 to an 8, say. This, well it’s already quite nice, with its gentle swaying manner and its textbook First Aid Kit smile, and that just puts it a little bit higher, to give me a nice relaxed smile. I like it. It’s pleasant.

Tom: You’re not wrong there: although the strongest part for me was the intro and first verse, which was such a strong start that I assumed the chorus was going to be spectacular. Instead, it was good. That’s still high praise coming from me, don’t get me wrong, and I don’t know what else they could have done with it; but I just wasn’t sure that the chorus had actually started.

Tim: Now, if only someone could make a great song that’s also in 3 time and has a fantastic key ch-OH WAIT A MINUTE.

First Aid Kit – Stay Gold

“Pretty good, in the usual First Aid Kit manner.”

Tim: Title track from their third album, seeing them keep up the strong country pop vibe – have a listen if you don’t believe me. Or if you do. In fact, just have a listen.

Tim: I don’t know why, but I’m having trouble coming up with much to write at the moment, about this or any track.

Tom: That’s because, for this track at least, it’s exceptionally dull. The voice is good, but it’s droning; the guitar goes nowhere; it is all — and I’m using the technical term here — “meh”.

Tim: You reckon? Because I think this is definitely worth a feature and the one I’ve been most enamoured by of the multitude I’ve listened to this evening. Except for the Frozen soundtrack. I could probably write for HOURS on that.

Tom: Well, you know why that is? Stay Gold is basically a low-key version of Let It Go.

Tim: What?

Tom: Go on, sing the first line along with this, it’s basically the same. And the lyric “top of the mountain we wanted to stand?” It’s Let It Go.

Tim: Errrmmmmm………

Tom: Okay, that might be a stretch.

Tim: Let’s move on from Frozen. Because this is pretty good as well, in the usual First Aid Kit manner. Emotive vocal, nice country instrumentation and not in an irritating manner. In fact, to be honest, I think I’ll just recommend the album in general – it’s all of this calibre, and definitely worth thirty eight minutes of your time. Give it a go, why don’t you.

First Aid Kit – My Silver Lining

“Grown up country-pop, and done very well at that.”

Tim: Remember this Swedish duo from back in 2012?

Tom: For once, yes I do! I think that’s mostly due to the name though.

Tim: Good, because it’s new album time, and therefore new track time.

Tim: The sound’s not changed much, which after yesterday’s ridiculousness almost comes as something of a relief.

Tom: Speak for yourself, I could take a whole album of that.

Tim: Oh, so could I, but after forty minutes of that one track on repeat it struck me as time for a change. This is grown up country-pop, and done very well at that.

Tom: Yes, yes it is. She’s got exactly the right voice for that — pitch-perfect cry break included — backed by the right instrumentation and production.

Tim: Mind you, for a song that’s ostensibly named after the good things in life, it’s not exactly a chirpy number, is it? It’s nice, and very good, but it’s hardly a party number, except– ooh! except for that time in every party when all the alcohol’s run out, a few people have started sneaking out in the garden for a spliff and everyone’s just lazing around and a bit weary. That part of a party, it’s great for.

Tom: Well, that’s rather specific. I think it’ll be damn good in a few other situations too, although I can’t quite suggest what they’ll be.

Tim: Oh, I’m sure you’re right, but until the specific moments come to you, should that happen to be anybody’s favourite part of a party, the single’s out now, and the album’ll be with us in a couple of months. SORTED.

First Aid Kit – Wolf

I can see why it’s a live favourite.

Tim: The newest single off their album, The Lion’s Roar, likely chosen because people are appreciating it on their tour and it’s the best-selling song off the album on iTunes.

Tom: Which is interesting, given it wasn’t even on the original printing of the album. Not that such things count for much nowadays.

Tim: Isn’t that lovely? I can see why it’s a live favourite – the enthusiastic instrumentation, the excited pre-chorus and then the hey, hey chorus that the entire crowd can sing along with. The vocals are like those in the last single of theirs we reviewed, Emmylou (although we’ve since missed a couple out), and are just as lovely and soulful as they were back then.

Tom: The singer’s really rather good at the “cry break”: that vocal trick where, in songs about longing or sorrow, the note seems to crack, only to switch to a different note instead. It’s not heard much outside country and western – which this almost sounds like – but it fits very well.

Tim: I’m not really sure what the lyrics are all about, but whatever they are I’m sure everything matches together well enough.

Tom: I was about to call you out on not doing the research, but then I looked up the lyrics and realised I couldn’t work them out either.

Tim: The voices and the instruments certainly work well together, and so I’m happy with this. So happy with it that I decided to get the album, and was delighted to find out it’s only a fiver. Lovely.

First Aid Kit – Emmylou

“More country and western than I expected.”

Tim: First Aid Kit. That is what this group, about to release their second album, The Lion’s Roar, actually chose to call themselves.

Tom: They’ll go well with The Vaccines, then.

Tom: Well, that’s a lot more country and western than I expected. That name does make them rather ungooglable, though – so when I managed to track them down online, I was surprised to find out they’re Swedish; those American accents, and all the style and pageantry that goes with them, are utterly convincing.

Tim: In their words, it’s “about the power of singing together with someone you love” which is just lovely, isn’t it. Well, unless you don’t have anyone to love and that thought, combined with the opening lyrics about bitter winds and missing the summer and the vaguely funereal scene towards the end of the video, might leave you feeling a little bit down. BUT ANYWAY, let’s pretend that thought never occurred to me and we’ll move on.

Tom: It’s surprising how often we have to do that.

Tim: Yeah. Yeah, it really is, isn’t it? Hmm. Actually, this isn’t really the place to psychoanalyse me, so if you don’t mind we’ll go back to the music.

It’s a gentle tune with shout-outs to various country musicians, and while there is a slight melancholiness about the tune and voice, the lyrics are quite sweet – they’ve had a bit of an argument, she’s lied to him about something or other, but she just wants only the beginnings of forgiveness: “I’m not asking much of you, just sing little darling, sing with me.”

Tom: It’s all rather lovely. It’s not exactly the straight-out pop we normally feature here – but I really like it.