Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Shortcomings can be unsightly and those with them can be shunned, cruelly. But shortcomings can also be some of the prettiest things to think about, to sing about. When they belong to the famous, these sorts of things make them seem more human, more down-to-earth. When normal people have them, these shortcomings become the minutiae and tiniest details that endear one to another. The way one's mouth whistles when they sleep, the colic that never sits right on a boy's head of hair, a jaw cracking while eating, the use of curse words to make a point, a man's distinctive musk or a woman's angry voice bring us closer when all convention might suggest that the opposite should occur. The shortcomings that we hear about in First Aid Kit songs are those at the foundations of relationships between a man and a woman. We hear them sung at the start of the disintegration - of a man who goes on business trips, comes home late at night from the downtown bars and other places, smelling like the tangerines that his mistress seems to have bathed in. The fragrance is strong and incriminating and yet, it takes a while for the straw to break the camel's back. Klara and Johanna Söderberg, the two sisters who make up the group, sound like the jilted lovers who play their hands appropriately, biding their time and striking when they know that they'll be most lethal. The songs on their full-length, "The Big Black & The Blue" and their debut EP, "Drunken Trees," are like afternoons where the humidity hangs on a body like a buffalo-skin rug turned into a coat. The ominous texture to all that they're getting at is pregnant with implications and on almost every song, there's a certain feeling that the jig is up for this cocky, no good man and it's just a matter of time before he gets his. There's a hanging dread of the truth coming out, of the discovery of it, like a thousand poorly hidden skeletons suddenly getting up on the dining room table with canes and top-hats and dancing a number right in the middle of dessert. Klara and Johanna make this hovering dread sound as if it's a gorgeous ribbon of light brushing up against you, this glowing spring of water in the dark woods, drawing us near as if we were moths, pulled unconsciously. We hover around it and drink it and it never comes crashing in on us because we're just the lonesome bystanders, here to gander, to gawk and to swoon in its eaves. It tantalizes us and makes our thoughts jumble up. We feel the power of it lift us some and we're taken aback by the coolness exhibited, even when such deceptive things have been done and even when there's going to have to be an answering for them. We sit there, basking and imagining the blowout and the chopping block - all of the hurt feelings and the ringing cries, the shortcomings losing their pretty looks and falling apart like cookies.