First Aid Kit - The Big Black and The Blue

Chris Shipman 22/01/2010

Rating: 4.5/5

Focused around the lush, sweeter-than-honey harmonies of Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg, The Big Black and The Blue showcases a mature country-folk sound that belies the duos teenage years. Stripped back acoustic ballads chart a mature course through such well-trodden themes such as religious faith (or lack thereof) and lost love. It'd be easy for the duo to stray into cliché territory but First Aid Kit pull it all off with great sensitivity and taste, laying out a veritable smörgåsbord

of charm through their Laura Marling-meets-Johnny Cash laments. Throughout, the duo's softer-than-candyfloss vocal delivery of brutally direct lines such as 'We mean nothing to history, well thank God' is heart-wrenchingly glorious.

'The Big Black and The Blue' is perfect music for Wintertime- sparse yet silver-lined with a distinct sense of hope and comfort. That said, this eleven song set has remarkable longevity, revealing more with each subsequent listen. 'Waltz for Richard' and 'Ghost town' are particular highlights, showcasing a penchant for combining fabulous pop melodies that stick in the mind better than any graduate of the Simon Cowell-led industry circus as well as a flair for musical storytelling unmatched by many of their peers.

Wichita are a label famed for picking up outstanding young talent and on the strength of this, their debut, First Aid Kit are no different. A frighteningly-good first outing for your next favourite Scandinavian band.