Review: Ruins by First Aid Kit

Ruins by First Aid KitBy now you know you can’t really go wrong with the Soderberg sisters, and with the release of Ruins, First Aid Kit continues exploring (and mining) their influences and their career trajectory. The record still has the sisters harmonizing oh-so-nicely, while going (a bit) deeper into the Americana sound they have adopted since 2012’s The Lion’s Roar. But with the slight change of atmosphere – the record was produced in Portland, OR, with the help of Tucker Martine – comes a polishing of the grit, a sanding off of the edges, and the keen will notice a change in their sound, for better or worse. I particularly enjoyed how the duo’s pastoral nature crept through even in their later albums: now it’s all shiny and it feels like something’s missing. But the approach also allows them to push their sound further, particularly on “Hem of Her Dress”, whose on-the-spot sound (and the rare cracking yelp) gives an unexpected oomph to an otherwise comfortable album. Also, any nitpicking vanishes once Klara and Johanna sing, together or individually: despite the shine, Ruins is not First Aid Kit selling out, but rather pushing on, still with that subtle, niggling heartbreak. Also, I must note how beautiful and hopeless Klara’s very last line on “Fireworks” feels. [NB]4/5

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