First Aid Kit by Big BloodRelease date: June 9, 2023
Label: Feeding Tube Records / Ba Da Bing Records
This right here friends, is some high grade, lo-fi, free range, New Weird America. A musical tonic to ease what ails you. Home cooked and wholesome but still pleasingly oddball. Big Blood is a family affair. An improvisatory and experimental project started by Caleb Mulkerin and Colleen Kinsella that has long featured their growing daughter Quinnisa. Now a teenager, First Aid Kit sees her splitting lead vocal duties with Colleen displaying some impressive skills and that natural ease in doing something you’ve grown up with.
The music they make is very human. Home recorded on eight track, working spontaneously, looking to capture the magic and move on. It starts appropriately with a little tape wobble and a shaky strum before ‘In My Head’ snakes out, full of garage charm and echoes of The Cramps in its steady twang ‘n’ stomp. ‘Haunted’ is a more ramshackle groove, with a loose structure and oblique minimal lyrics that reflects their instant composition approach. It makes a slight, and suitably ghostly, return later on but is followed by an even shorter interlude.
‘Candy, Here I Come’ is but a tape splice channel hop into ‘Infinite Space’ another gently unwinding shuffle of forward motion and cosmic slop mantra. A version of Barbara Lynn’s dreamy ‘Ring Telephone Ring’ makes it even hazier, a blend of torch song and echo jam. For contrast ‘Never Ending Nightmare’ brings a stiff new wave beat with weird tuned percussion on the chorus and some wonderfully ill behaved 80’s synths while Quinnisa frets about getting home safely.
Undeniably the record’s stand out is ‘1000 Times’. A glorious girl group banger, its sweet and beautiful heart-skip dance of teen infatuation is so disarmingly guileless it might blindside you the first time. As if you imagined it. Did they really just do that? Amid the laid back feel of the album, coming off ‘Makes Me Wonder’, another bass line jam that dissolves into audio clutter and birdsong, it bursts like a firework. Similar things were toyed with on 2020’s Do You Wanna Have a Skeleton Dream? but ‘1000 Times’ sharpens them, effortlessly nailing a soaring arrangement. When it gets to the place for a solo a weird calm descends, as if the song were struck as dumb as its tongue-tied protagonist. It’s a total earworm.
And then we’re headed off. ‘Weird Road Pt1’ returns to insect buzz and sound melting in the heat haze, drifting off into the future or the past. For a little while First Aid Kit sees the ramshackle underground put on its Sunday best, invite you into their world and make you feel a bit better by singing a few songs. They do it for themselves but they’re happy to share. I’m glad they could stop by.