“You told me once I have a rebel heart,” sing First Aid Kit on the opener of their new album Ruins. “I don’t know if that’s true,” they add, immediately echoing our own response to that first statement.
First Aid Kit have been a lot of wonderful things in their time, but rebellious is not one of them. They’ve nestled in the safe branches of their throwback, harmonised folk-pop and to be honest it still works for them – if not on Rebel Heart then certainly with the triumphant It’s A Shame. And, to be fair, the rest of their lovely and tremendously safe album.
The duo still have an exceptional knack for creating pastoral worlds with texture, even if most of it by now seems rote for them. They embrace full country on Postcard, still a marvel of an exercise in how the Swedes recreate middle America with a sense of having lived it. Funnily enough, a song called To Live A Life soon encompasses the minutiae of their own with gentle acoustic backing.
Let’s be honest: no one comes to First Aid Kit for a surprise. Then again no one else does what they do quite as well as they do. It’s a polished act that ticks the yearning of the middle-aged for days gone by, with Ruins a comfort blanket of a record for both fans and First Aid Kit alike. It’s going to take something dramatic to veer them off their current course; for now it’s steady if a little bit unremarkable.