First Aid Kit - 'Stay Gold'
Recorded with a 13-piece orchestra, the Swedish folk duo's second album masters the art of sophisticated sadnessMore on First Aid Kit
Recorded at Conor Oberst’s ARC Studios in Omaha with Bright Eyes’ Mike Mogis – who also helmed 2012’s The Lion’s Roar – this time around, a 13-piece orchestra boosts the band’s sound to West End-worthy realms of drama, as on the mournful ‘A Long Time Ago’, which documents the end of a relationship with profound, string-laden misery. ‘Master Pretender’ and ‘Waitress Song’ provide the chirpiest moments of these 10 tracks, yet the former undermines its own happy-clappy close harmonies as Klara sighs: “I always thought that you’d be here/But shit gets fucked up/People just disappear”. All thrusting acoustics and frisky Fairport Convention-isms, the latter’s bounce also betrays a impenetrable melancholy, as she sings of ditching Dumpsville to become a character from a Bruce Springsteen song: “I could move to a small town and become a waitress/Say my name was Stacey/And I was figuring things out”.
At times the sisters risk being bogged down by a certain two-dimensionality, but they prove there’s more to them than a sparkling glumness with ‘My Silver Lining’, which has all the slinkiness of a 1960s spy movie soundtrack, like a horny Scott Walker prowling across Jane Birkin’s bedroom. Sorrow is rarely this sophisticated.
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