PITCHFORK.COM
PITCHFORK.COM

★★★★☆

If you thought First Aid Kit was a quintessential soft indie folk group, think again. With the release of its latest album, “Stay Gold,” the Swedish sister duo delivers a robust sound of indie beats, country twinges and hauntingly beautiful vocalizations.

First Aid Kit, consisting of Johanna and Klara Söderburg, released their first album in 2010, followed by a second, more popular record in 2012. Both were immensely successful in Sweden, and the sisters’ fame eventually spread to the United States with the release of their most famous song, “Emmylou,” from their second album.

The sisters have long been well regarded for their folksy vocals and incredible harmonies, but “Stay Gold” reveals the talent of First Aid Kit in a whole new light. With a sound mature beyond their years, the Söderburg sisters have put together a collection of 10 tracks that shows off their full musical development and exploration of genre.

The first track on the album, “My Silver Lining,” was released as a single earlier this year and was well received by listeners. It’s a lively, multi-instrumental song, full of optimism and inspiring lines such as, “Can’t worry ’bout what’s behind you or what’s coming for you further up the road” and “I won’t take the easy road.”

Many songs on the album, in fact, feature lyrics about a road, creating an accurate idea that the young sisters are journeying into a new and uncertain world. In “The Bell,” for example, they sing, “Been out here for so long/the road just stretches on.” This is likely a reference to their extensive touring in the last few years.

The album’s title track, “Stay Gold,” is a sing-song string of questions that many youths share. “What if a hard work ends in despair?/What if the road won’t take me there?/Oh I wish for once we could stay gold,” the sisters sing in the upbeat chorus that pairs in striking contrast to the slower, more tender vocals of the verses.

Songs like “Cedar Lane” and “Shattered & Hollow” display the perfectly close harmonies that apparently only sisters can share, creating a chilling flow of sweet acoustic melodies that defines their sound.

The final track, “A Long Time Ago,” is the slowest, softest song on the album, featuring a heartbreaking piano ballad. The somber lyrics and maturity of the sisters’ voices make it easy to forget that this deeply moving post-love song was written by young girls in their early 20s.

“Stay Gold” is an impressively beautiful conglomeration of indie folk, pop, retro hints, and country acoustics that highlights the songwriting abilities and sheer vocal talent of the Söderberg sisters like never before. It displays an obviously progressive evolution of their sound that is sure to grow in popularity throughout the summer.

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