First Aid Kit

Drunken Trees

  • AllMusic Rating
    7
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg made their recording at the ripe young ages of 18 and 15, respectively, with this quietly accomplished EP (really more like a mini-LP) of amiably homespun acoustic folk. If the artists' ages are the most immediately noteworthy aspect of this release, their considerable vocal abilities are a strong, striking second: whether singly or (more typically) in sisterly harmony, the Söderbergs sing in full, earthy, expressive tones that belie their years. The same can't quite be said for their songwriting: if the cutesy "lets pretend" intro to the lullaby-like "Little Moon" opens the album by overtly tipping their hand to youth, the several songs about frustrated domestic relationships (a curious preoccupation -- perhaps it seemed like an appropriate topic for the genre?) are even more of a giveaway, tellingly informed by imagination and hearsay rather than than lived experience (sometimes, as on the confusedly personal-cum-political "Our Own Pretty Ways," it's just hard to tell what they're trying to get at.) Still, if the second-person failed-marriage saga "You're Not Coming Home Tonight" feels more like a transposed runaway-child fantasy than a defiant feminist statement, that doesn't make its strummy amble and deliciously catchy chorus harmonies any less infectious. First Aid Kit are -- as well they should be at this stage of the game -- still in the process of refining their craft, and still taking plenty of cues from other artists (the gorgeous cover of Fleet Foxes' "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" appended to later versions of this release makes their connections to the contemporary American indie folk revival all the more explicit), but the raw materials they've got at their disposal -- beyond-solid vocal chops and a sure way with a melodic hook -- all signal great things to come. Without straying too far from comfortably rootsy folk territory, Drunken Trees also offers a fair amount of range -- not nearly as straightforwardly sugar-sweet as they may at first seem, the duo can pull off poppy, dead sober, retro-rock ("Cross Oceans," which piles on the handclaps, electric organ, and rollicking drumbeat) and spooky (check the spare, ghostly "Jagadamba" -- they're not signed to the Knife's Rabid label for nothing) with equal conviction -- which makes it all the more intriguing to see where they'll go from here.

blue highlight denotes track pick