Often, artists choose random objects, phenomena or things to name their band, ensuring that they completely lose all meaning – think The Beatles (does that really make you think of insects?), The Rolling Stones (rolling where?) and Arctic Monkeys (won’t they be freezing?). The same goes for First Aid Kit, the name of Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg, apparently decided on by flicking through a dictionary and picking a random word on a random page. While music doesn’t provide real plasters, writing and creating songs can do much to cure a heartbreak. This is certainly happening on their latest album Ruins, recorded after Klara’s engagement collapsed.
We know the Söderberg sisters for their folk songs with storytelling lyrics and beautiful harmonies, yet Ruins is a step up; it feels a lot more mature and grown-up than their last album Stay Gold, which came out four years ago, as well as even more American-sounding. There are clear melodious rock and pop influences, the tracks feeling more gritty and direct. Thankfully, the harmonising doesn’t get lost either – it is especially in those moments when two voices bounce off of each other that real magic is created. While Klara is the main vocalist, Johanna’s more melancholic sound actually fits perfectly to the album’s theme of heartbreak and moving on.
Maybe I am not one for embracing change in something that I already enjoyed, but my favourite songs on the album are definitely those that speak to First Aid Kit’s past, such as ‘Fireworks’ and ‘Postcard’. Yet the addition of meaty guitar-sounds, organ and pedal steel make sure that, in contrast to older albums, the songs never merge into one, but are distinctly different, while delivered with the same charm and emotion.