MANCHESTER ROYAL INFIRMARY.
SEXUAL HEALTH CLINIC.
TUESDAY, JUNE 28th, 2005, 13:38.
A Muslim woman is threading a futuristic-looking Q-Tip on a reconnaissance mission into my urethra. I say Q-Tip – its anything but cute, capped as it is with something far less sympathetic than cotton. Have you ever pushed the ‘lead’ out of a decrepit pencil? Imagine transplanting that graphite, flat-end-first into your dick in pursuance of the prototype of ‘The Penisil™’, and you’re close to approximating the sensation. With the results expected to take a week I’m asked to abstain from using my ‘penisil’ for any exploratory missions of its own, and given antibiotics (no, not penisillin), a little white tub of Azithromycin that makes for a distinctly pharmaceutical-sounding pants-maraca as I hobble out of there.
Due to possible side effects (Vampirism, presumably) I’m warned to stay out of direct sunlight. This won’t be a problem I assure them. ‘Since you ask: Yes, I’m going on Holiday, flying-out in a couple of days in fact, but, get this: I’m going to Stockholm!’
Oh, how we chuckled…
(Don’t worry, here’s…) THE REVIEW
‘First Aid Kit’ are Johanna and Klara Söderberg of Enskede, Stockholm. Only just impressing themselves upon their twenties, these girls make a convincing musical claim to the uneducated of maybe hailing from some Midwestern backwater, and with this raw gift for mimicry have already won over the likes of Jack White of ‘Jack-Fucking-White’ fame, as well as ‘Bright Eyes’ producer Mike Mogis, who heads this particular expedition. ‘The Lion’s Roar’ comes-in more assured than even their combined years should be able to muster, let alone their Geographical disadvantage.
While I’ll admit to not having too much enthusiasm for listening to anything labeled as ‘Folk’ or ‘Country’ at this juncture, I have to hand it to them – what they do, they do well. Not as well as, say Emilíana Torrini (whose ‘Fisherman’s Woman’ was idiosyncratic enough to not be shackled to comparisons of American Folk, but impressive enough to win admiration from modern purveyors of the form like Joanna Newsome & Bill Callahan – the latter of which covered her on his ‘Woke On A Whaleheart’ LP), but well enough to not seem as though they’re an outright Genre Tribute Act.
While ‘Emmylou’ might induce the most miniscule of cringes from the initiated with its name checking of Harris, Carter, Parsons & Cash…
“I’ll be your Emmylou and I’ll be your June
If you’ll be my Gram and my Johnny too.”
…there’s enough on show to suggest there’s a life beyond well-meaning pastiche. ‘Blue’ which one might prematurely misconstrue as a Joni Mitchell homage, is in fact more 60s, West Coast, sun kissed Pop.
If I’ve a complaint to make, it’s that ‘First Aid Kit’ are still somewhat as superficial a treatment as their name suggests. While it’s refreshing to hear a Scandinavian band sounding less affected than Westerners who’ve done the reverse: adopting the accent or style of their respective culture – it’s still like they’ve had the lead of someone else’s pencil transplanted into their physicality, and that their relatively recent freshly-pubescent physicality might be more of a draw than their overall artistry, hence my ‘Penisillin’ preamble, but Stockholm turned-out to be really fucking hot, so don’t make assumptions and write them off.
The Lion’s Roar is out now on Wichita Recordings