Essential New Music: First Aid Kit’s “Ruins”

There’s a crystalline, cold Nordic purity running through First Aid Kit that, combined with a streak of melancholic, autumnal folk/pop and a hefty dose of bittersweet country, makes the duo almost irresistible. Thankfully, all are very much in evidence on the Söderberg sisters’ fourth full-length. Produced by Tucker Martine, Klara and Johanna are ably supported throughout by a sympathetic cast of players, including Peter Buck and members of Wilco and Midlake, who provide a warm patina of deluxe Americana that never gets in the way or swamps the sisters’ glorious harmonies.

Even when arrangements become a little too workmanlike or lyrics drift into the realm of cliché, they emerge utterly triumphant through sheer, unwavering self-belief and (not to belabor the point) their transcendent, incandescent harmonies. Imagine an entire choir of self-harmonizing Emmylou Harrises and you’re still not close. They’re that good. When they open up and truly let go, they achieve states of near euphoria and joyous magnificence. It’s akin to some divine magic trick—best not to question and instead bask in the reflected glory.

—Neil Ferguson