The Lion’s Roar by First Aid Kit (Wichita Recordings, 2012. 43 minutes)
Formed in 2007, First Aid Kit is Johanna and Klara Söderberg from Enskede, Sweden. A 2008 viral YouTube cover of the band, Fleet Foxes, gained the duo wide notoriety. First Aid Kit signed to Wichita Records in 2008 and released their debut record, The Big Black & the Blue, in 2010.
A Starbucks on Every Corner of the Globe
The world is shrinking. 100 years ago, an inter-continental trip was tedious and dangerous. Today, a jetliner connects us anywhere in the world within a day.
This ease of travel, while presenting the modern world with the ability to engage in a myriad of culture, offers a melting pot for business and creativity.
One can patron a Starbucks just as easily in Germany as in Seattle. Moreover, globalization represents a shift in art. While Alan Lomax could traverse rural areas 100 years ago collecting folk tunes, the modern world transports musical stylings across the globe.
For example, The Lion’s Roar, the latest album from the Swedish duo, First Aid Kit, sounds remarkably similar to Fleet Foxes, a well-known Seattle-based band. More to the point, the similarity surrounds the use of textured vocal harmony and acoustic instruments. Historically, the mélange of sound originates from California and the rootsy Americana of the Southern United States. So to review, Tennessee→California→Washington→Sweden.
Pop Culture Potpourri
Even more, First Aid Kit’s lyrics signify the global ubiquity of pop culture. In the pristinely crafted single, “Emmylou”, the duo croons:
“I’ll be your Emmylou and I’ll be your June / If you’ll be my Gram and my Johnny too / No, I’m not asking much of you / Just sing, little darling, sing with me”
Citing Emmlyou Harris and her collaborator Gram Parsons as well as June Carter Cash and her husband Johnny Cash, First Aid Kit delves into the dense history of American popular music, despite living a generation removed in Scandinavia.
A Melody Needs a Word and a Rhythm
Melodically rich, The Lion’s Roar offers a variety of listenable songs but the lyrics are a stumbling block. Clearly, English is not the primary language of the duo. Lyrical inconsistency arises, especially during the verses.
Truthfully, First Aid Kit could use some work on meter. Too often, the rhythms of the lyrics feel off. One syllable is too long, the next too quick. For example, the first verse of “The Lion’s Roar” proclaims,
“Now the pale morning sings of forgotten things / She plays a tune for those who wish to overlook / The fact that they’ve been blindly deceived / By those who preach and pray and teach / But she falls short and the night explodes in laughter”
Upon careful listening, it seems like more consideration of word choice would alleviate some of the rhythmic worries.
Nevertheless, The Lion’s Roar is an enjoyable and global record. Despite my worries about lyrical rhythm, First Aid Kit’s melodies require a purchase of this record. If you like Fleet Foxes or indie folk in general, check out The Lion’s Roar.
Verdict: 3.5 out of 5
What do you think? Is musical globalization a good thing or do you miss location-rooted music? Do you like the first single, “Emmylou”?
Share your thoughts below.