Johanna and Klara Soderberg, the Swedish sisters known as First Aid Kit, bring atmosphere and stunning sibling harmonies to their fourth album, Ruins.
This recording is their first since 2014’s Stay Gold, a California dream of 1970s country rock. The lushness of that recording is replaced by a focussed, darker sound on Ruins.
The songs are strong and sharp here, produced by popular folk-rock producer, Tucker Martine (My Morning Jacket, Neko Case, Modest Mouse). The line up includes, among others, former REM guitarist Peter Buck, Wilco’s Glenn Kotche on drums and the sisters’ father, Benkt Soderberg, on bass.
This recording isn’t rooted in the country rock of Stay Gold, although Postcard leans in that direction.
There is a deep longing and wistfulness in the lyrics and tone of the music. It’s rife with reflection and images of wind, storms, heartache and travel.
There’s also a sense of grandeur on songs like Nothing Has to Be True and Distant Star. It’s sparse in comparison to earlier albums and one of the more poignant tracks is To Live a Life. This song is a finger picked acoustic guitar and the heart melting vocals of the Soderberg sisters.
Their combined voices are beautiful and evocative and shape the character and ringing sound of the songs behind them.
They have that instinctive Scandinavian ability to create shimmering melodies and stunning pop music that sounds gorgeous or atmospheric or both.