NPR logo First Listen: First Aid Kit, 'The Lion's Roar'

First Listen: First Aid Kit, 'The Lion's Roar'

The Lion's Roar

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First Aid Kit's new album, The Lion's Roar, comes out Jan. 24. Neil Krug/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Neil Krug/Courtesy of the artist

First Aid Kit's new album, The Lion's Roar, comes out Jan. 24.

Neil Krug/Courtesy of the artist

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For a pair of young Swedish sisters, First Aid Kit's Klara and Johanna Söderberg sure do attract a lot of Fleet Foxes comparisons. Those start, of course, with the pair's gorgeous 2008 cover of "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song," which became a YouTube sensation to the tune of more than 2.6 million views. But they'll no doubt continue with the release of First Aid Kit's second full-length album, The Lion's Roar (out Jan. 24), which conjures an array of dense echo-chamber harmonies and a good deal of achingly somber portent. Much of the time, it stays nestled in a Foxes-friendly sweet spot of rich choral folk, suitable for moping and swooning along.

But, while the title track opens The Lion's Roar on a serious note ("I'm a goddamned coward / but then again so are you," First Aid Kit sings in the chorus), the album isn't all doomstruck mountain music and solemn condemnations. It quickly finds a place for the charmingly goodnatured lilt of "Emmylou," in which the sisters romanticize past musical Americana couples, while "King of the World" closes the album with a ramshackle, clap-along rouser — complete with guest vocals from The Felice Brothers and former tourmate Conor Oberst. Naturally, stark moments like "To a Poet" ratchet up the gloom along the way, but the Söderbergs are wise and versatile enough never to stay in one place for too long.

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