The clichéd notion of the difficult second album can often apply to bands, ones who overreach themselves and suffer what the Americans call a ‘sophomore slump’. I never thought First Aid Kit (facebook/twitter) were going to be that kind of band, though, and having just recently listened to their comeback album, The Lion’s Roar (I finished my first listen not ten minutes before writing this), I can say that there is nothing difficult about it at all. It will be released two years, almost to the day, after The Big Black and the Blue, and is the sound of a band (yes, I said band, and not just duo – even though First Aid Kit are comprised of two Swedish sisters, Johanna and Klara Söderberg, they had a full band behind them while recording their second record) taking serious strides in the right direction. More expansive and windswept than the sparse arrangements that were their debut’s watchword, its title track provides the perfect introduction.
The pair’s stunning use of close harmony is out in full force, as ever, as they showcase a new sound that is slightly more country-tinged with a five-minute song that starts in an understated manner and builds to something that can accurately be described as colossal. I detect a hint of Laura Marling in this song (and indeed, the album as a whole), and just as I Speak Because I Can displayed her coming into her own as an artist, The Lion’s Roar is of similar quality. 2012 isn’t even here yet, but it could well be a landmark one for these two – there’s a lot more where this came from.