Album Review: First Aid Kit – Ruins

Emily Pirie talks us through the highly anticipated new release from Swedish sister duo First Aid Kit

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Have you ever felt the desire to run to the other end of the country after a break up? Well this album encapsulates such a longing, providing a cathartic sense of escapism for all those who are suffering this bittersweet feeling of heartache.

The title suggests it all, focusing on the subject matter of the tumultuous ruin of a once idyllic relationship. For Klara Söderberg, one of the two sisters of the Swedish double act, the album acted like a diary to vocalise her youthful angst of getting over a partner that left her alone in the night over the phone.

their fourth album is no joy ride

An avid fan of the young Swedish act duo must be warned that their fourth album is no joy ride. Rather, it is a dark and broody roller coaster. Like Adele’s 25 which provides a more melancholic tone than her previous 21, Ruins will either make you want to drink a bottle of “cheap wine”, as sung in ‘To Live a Life’ or spin endlessly in a field like Kate Bush when listening to their more upbeat song, ‘Hem of Her Dress’.

However, like their three previous albums, Ruins retains their angelic, Abba-like harmonies and wistful tone. They perfectly combine crucial elements of their inspirations, including American folk and classic pop to make something that is truly original. One cannot help but hear the dulcet tones of Dolly Parton running through songs like ‘Postcard’ but also the feminine sounds of The Staves.

The album begins in a typically ethereal way with ‘Rebel Heart’, providing a rather nihilist crisis as to what life means, as according to the Swedish sisters, nothing matters and “all is futile”. The sense of escapism captured draws a comparison with ‘My Silver Lining’ from 2014, in which she also feels like escaping. For an audience and listener, they are running away from their own reality with the sound of their celestial voices.

As the album glides into song two, the mood changes as we switch into a major key with a louder and punchier feel, finally giving the listener something to shake their hips to.  However, this upbeat tone is quickly shattered as we reach the second half of the album in song six. By this point we are desperate for them to shout their passions of pervasive angst, like in their 2010 song ‘Sailor Song’.

Ruins retains their angelic, Abba-like harmonies and wistful tone

However, being the spontaneous and surprising band that they are, with ‘Hem of Her Dress’ we begin to hear true feelings sung through gritted teeth. They are no longer shying away from the injustice that they have suffered. By the end of the song, it has a marching quality that reminds one of Of Monsters and Men.

With the final song, we are provided with a cyclical effect that recalls why she is angry. However, despite her friend’s advice, she is still desperate to be with her previous lover. The listener has to question at this point as to which side they are on.

So Ruins is not a ruined album. Rather, it is a record of angst that mostly everyone can relate to. What makes it exquisite, however, is their unrelatable ability to make harmonies like angelic Swedish songbirds.

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