Album Of The Week: First Aid Kit – Palomino

First Aid Kit find a fifth gear on the open road with our pick of the week’s new releases

Halfway through Palomino, First Aid Kit sing about a couple arguing over who recorded the better version of ‘Wild Horses’, The Rolling Stones or Gram Parsons. It might be the most “First Aid Kit” song the band have ever written, but it almost feels out of place now in a record that sees Johanna and Klara Söderberg completely reinventing themselves. 

Five albums in, First Aid Kit are flying out of the cage with new wings – now somehow finding an even stronger voice in a punchier pop sound that’s pitched right to the back of the biggest rooms. 

First Aid Kit - Out of My Head (Official Video)

Recorded back in Sweden for the first time since 2010’s The Big Black And The Blue, Johanna and Klara step back to move forward, channelling Fleetwood Mac, Kate Bush and Tom Petty through a flawless road trip mixtape that swaps melancholy for muscle. Palomino might reopen a lot of old wounds in its raw-cut confessional lyrics, but First Aid Kit now have what they need to heal – an album full of empowering anthems that all feel like the end credits to the best films you grew up with. 

First new single ‘Out Of My Head’ is the perfect place to start again, the synth beat kicking in like a Haim hit just as the sisters sync their best harmony – a song about overthinking a relationship that could easily be the new ‘Running Up That Hill’ if Stranger Things ever leaves the 80s.

“What has fear ever done for me, except for holding me back?” wonders ‘Angel’, already a long way from the colder introspection on The Lion’s RoarStay Gold and Ruins before the brass comes in and warms everything up another few degrees. Where a younger First Aid Kit turned to country for solace, here pop arms them with something more celebrational – love, in all its forms, shoring up everything on the record.

First Aid Kit - Turning Onto You (Official Video)

And there’s room for so many other roads to drive down. ‘Ready To Run’ brings Carol King melancholy before building to something triumphant (a bold statement for a song about the girl’s roots, with telling lines like, “did I disappoint you? I’m pretty sure I did. You thought I was some kind of rockstar, I was a nervous little kid…”). ‘Turning Into You’ brings in a George Harrison guitar line like a time machine, before ‘Nobody Knows’ covers sisterly love with widescreen western scope, and ’29 Palms Highway’ adds cosmic synths to the grounded Americana. 

All hung with just enough nostalgia to feel like covers of classics you’ve been singing forever, everything on Palomino soars. Ending with a title track that’s half ‘Paradise City’, half Thelma And Louise, the road ahead now stretches out even further than the one heading back, First Aid Kit giving us the end of one book and the first few chapters of the next. “I’ve been dragging your ghost around. Where you go, my love goes, darling. I can hear the unknown road calling…” Roll credits. 

Palomino is available to buy and stream from Friday 4 November. Find tickets here for First Aid Kit, with UK tour dates starting on 28 November.