First Aid Kit – Ruins
Ruins doesn't aim to re-write the indie-folk/country rule book. Rather, the Söderberg sisters are just fine-tuning their craft and growing into a comfortable groove
Ruins is the fourth album from the sisters Söderberg, their first in almost four years, although Klara and Johanna are still just 25 and 27, respectively. First Aid Kit has now expanded its live set-up to a five-piece, incorporating keys and horns alongside the array of guitars and drums, but their basic formula remains relatively unchanged on the new album.
Ruins continues the course set in motion by 2010's The Big Black and the Blue, of adding a little extra gleam and polish with each new record. Second single Postcard perfectly demonstrates how the band can incorporate studio glitz with their typical brand of plaintive country/folk musing. The harmonised vocals shine out of the speakers while honky-tonk piano and pedal steel guitar amp up the bluegrass stylings.
First single, It's a Shame, is made of similar stuff, leaning further into their country urges, though it suffers from being perhaps a little too simplistic for a lead single. To Live a Life, arriving in the middle of the album, is the real highlight. It's much more understated than most of the album, reminiscent of the band's earlier material, subtle and folky, before the key line: 'Then suddenly we wake from this dream we have made,' before shimmering orchestration and plucked strings come into focus, a perfect meld of the regal and the demure.
The album is a little front-loaded, with only Hem of Her Dress providing any real deviation from the norm on the second half (in the form a scorned woman's rage and some jaunty Spanish horns), but even average FAK still manages to sparkle with plush arrangements and pleasant, lilting harmonies. Ruins doesn't aim to re-write the indie-folk/country rule book, rather, the Söderberg sisters are just fine-tuning their craft and growing into a comfortable groove.
Listen to: To Live a Life, Postcard, Hem of her Dress