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First Aid Kit

Ruins – 2018 (Columbia)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by First Aid Kit

With their stunning new album "Ruins," First Aid Kit further ascend to unexpected heights of superstardom, a status a few knowing pundits have been predicting for the Swedish sisters since the beginning. Nevertheless, to those that encountered them early on, it may seem an unlikely progression to be sure, one which takes them from their origins as an innocent sounding sisterly duo in a decidedly wistful folk noir, to a mainstream entity in the good graces of major label backing.

Of course, its not unprecedented. Nearly all the great singer/songwriters of the '60s and early '70s started out in similarly unassuming circumstance, only to be elevated to mainstream success courtesy of that same patented push. Still, First Aid Kit's ascent seems somewhat unexpected, especially given their tender touch.

Happily Klara and Johanna Soderberg don't opt for the usual array of accoutrements often deemed so necessary for commercial credence. Granted, songs such as the drama-fuelled "Fireworks," the sweeping "Nothing Has To Be True" and the rollicking "It's a Shame" are imbued with enhanced arrangements that seem somewhat surprising given the otherwise tender circumstances. Likewise, there are the prerequisite marquee names - in this case, Peter Buck and Glen Kotche - to lend some stellar support. And yes, even the cover art - a glamorous black and white shot of the two women - more than hints at the attempt to elevate their image with obvious intent. Fortunately though, the pair haven't negated their roots. The sweeter songs such as "Postcard," the angelic yet rousing "Heart of Her Dress" and "To Live a Life" retain the same gentle caress and overall allure that brought them attention in the first place.

Yet, even for all the obvious flourishes, "Ruins" doesn't slack when it comes to quality. So if First Aid Kit finds themselves nudged along to greater heights of commercial credibility, it's also clear that the push is well deserved.