You don’t expect the mesmerizing folk-rock band First Aid Kit to be from Sweden. Their country-ish gusto is very Americana and this isn’t a sound they’ve adopted solely to reach a U.S. audience. The sister duet has been channeling the twang and grit of American bluegrass bands since their teenage years.
Klara and Johanna Söderberg were just 14 and 18 respectively when their cover of Fleet Foxes’ “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” went viral on YouTube. Today the video has garnered over five million views. Before that boost, the two teens had merely been busking on the streets of their native Stockholm.
DRESSES, STINE GOYA. EARRINGS, JOHANNA’S OWN.
The young artists came of age in a musical household. Their father played bass and guitar in the Swedish New Wave band Lolita Pop before retiring as a history teacher. He and his wife were fans of punk artists like Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, and Patti Smith. Their daughters’ musical tastes strayed elsewhere: toward the likes of Emmylou Harris, Simon and Garfunkel, and Leonard Cohen. You can hear these influences, along with their more contemporary choices of Joanna Newsom and Bright Eyes, in the music they’ve been creating ever since that fortuitous viral video.
Not only do Klara and Johanna possess a shared penchant for penning nostalgic lyrics with fresh melodies, they have an impossibly beautiful and renowned harmony. Their voices wind around each other like the strands of their DNA, a vocal intuition that comes from deep within their like marrow. It is a sound that quickly caught the ears of fans and industry professionals abroad.
First Aid Kit has recorded with the likes of Jack White, as well as Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes. They’ve released four of their own albums, the most recent of which, Ruins, was produced by Tucker Martine (My Morning Jacket, The Decemberists).
Ruins really exemplifies an elevated sound, embracing the full-effect of the band’s range and harmony, amplifying the strength of their voices. There’s a power in these tracks, and you can feel it stemming from Klara’s painful breakup–the inspiration for the album. There’s a maturity to be heard here. Whereas the lyrics written in past albums seem to be influenced by stories heard and read, these lyrics are honest and lived-in.
KLARA: KNIT, GANNI. DENIM, RODEBJER. SHOES, MARIMEKKO. JOHANNA: DRESS, GANNI. JEWELRY, JOHANNA’S OWN.
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