First Aid Kit
A companion EP to their incredible ‘Ruins’ record released earlier this year. ‘Tender Offerings’ is a collection of heart wrenching, defiant stories which show an already intimate First Aid Kit at their most vulnerable. The result is once again mesmerising.
As we head into the last quarter of the year I still find myself going back, time and time again to First Aid Kit’s stunning fourth record ‘Ruins’. Despite being released at the very beginning of the year it still remains one of, if not the best album released this year. So you can imagine my excitement when the Swedish sisters announced ‘Tender Offerings’. A surprise companion EP containing four tracks recorded during the ‘Ruins’ sessions, left out due to ‘thematically not fitting on a breakup record’.
From the first listen it was immediately clear, it was indeed the right decision to leave these off of ‘Ruins’. An album which felt just right, from its perfect runtime to its flowing narrative. Placing just one of these accompanying tracks into the album would have interrupted its flow and cohesion without a doubt. What’s a delight with this EP is that each track in itself feels like a different story, each one focusing on a separate element or specific heartbreak.
Opening with “I’ve Wanted You”, a heart-wrenching story of unrequited love which sees the sisters asking how do you pick yourself up after heartbreak and face the risk of being hurt once more?. At nearly 7 minutes in length, it’s easily the longest track in the Soderbergs discography. They spend this time allowing the song to steadily grow. Accomplished with very slight guitar picks and later on a sombre piano melody, all intended to make sure your focus is kept purely on the tale the sisters are weaving. Both Klara and Johanna are able to truly express these emotions with lyrics which show an unashamed vulnerability. "I've been feeling so in between things, Sad and stuck and alone, Even when I'm as high as I can get, I can't forget I'm on my own" It’s the most intimate First Aid Kit have ever sounded.
That intimacy and openness is a strong theme, which is ever present in the collection. title track ‘Tender Offerings’ is an earnest love song which embraces the bands folk roots with much more emphasis placed on its acoustics, with a mixture of steel guitars and a steady drumbeat.
The standout track of the collection is the devastating, yet utterly remarkable ‘Ugly’. How many times have we heard artists throw around the word as an insult? Just from hearing it in a musical context, it’s hard not to immediately draw your mind to the Top 20 hit from Daphne and Celeste, it’s an easy and petty way to target someone. Refreshingly, First Aid Kit have completely switched the perspective with a heart-wrenching ode to embracing yourself, to accepting it's ok to be who you are. The opening lines are an immediate gut punch “I thought that being skinny was the answer to all my problems, I thought if you found me pretty then I'll be fine”. This, however, is a song of pure defiance, from the beautiful harmonies to the way the girls reach some incredibly high notes, and to the chorus itself of “Oh if I'm ugly, I am still so much more than that, I'm so much more than you'll ever know.”
‘All That We Get’ is a short yet sweet conclusion to not just the EP but to this creative period as a whole for the group, it’s a song of acceptance, of being thankful for what you have. If the other person is constantly looking for improvements, then let them run. With this EP, Klara and Johanna have told four stories, filled with poignant lyrics and tinged with a brutal, heartbreaking honesty. Like it’s companion LP ‘Ruins’, it’s an essential listen for any music fan, but an absolute necessity if you love listening to outstanding harmonies, heartfelt lyrics and folk-inspired melodies.