Head here to submit your own review of this album.

For a band that make such markedly inoffensive music, there's actually quite a bit you need to get past about First Aid Kit; the apparently 'random' non-sequitur of a name, the ever-so-slightly grating Louisiana twang that two girls from Sweden have inexplicably picked up, and the fact that David Cameron turned up to their show in Shepherd's Bush a couple of years ago.

For the undeterred, though, The Lion's Roar offered plenty in the way of reward; instrumentally lush and tightly written, it featured some of the most gorgeous harmonies I've heard on a pop record in quite some time. A slow-burner to begin with on release in January of 2012, by the end of the year it was bothering the right end of the annual 'best-of' lists, as well as achieving a gradually remarkable level of commercial success - including a Platinum certification in their homeland.

For follow-up Stay Gold, all indications are that they've played it safe; Mike Mogis is retained on production duties, and shrewdly so, given that Bright Eyes' I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning pretty much laid down the template for modern, folk-tinged rock records. Accordingly, though, anybody looking for a dramatic departure from The Lion's Roar is bound to be disappointed.

'My Silver Lining' is a nice way to begin, a track that at once sounds both lackadaisical - shuffling guitars, initially subdued vocals - and dramatic - fluttering strings, a stirringly-delivered chorus. 'Cedar Lane' is an early highlight, too; on paper, it's a standard-issue ballad, but it's delivered with such conviction - particularly the climactic refrain of "How could I break away from you?" - that it's difficult to resist, especially with the instrumentation so smartly judged; snatches of slide guitar are played off against subtle violin.

If there is any kind of difference in approach on Stay Gold, it's that there's such care and attention poured into the sonic textures - understandably so, given how superficially beautiful the record sounds - that it's often at the expense of the most powerful weapon in the First Aid Kit arsenal - those voices, those harmonies. Perhaps that interplay was never going to be quite as arresting next time around, but it does feel as if there's less consideration lent to the vocals than on The Lion's Roar, an album that they really formed the crux of. The by-numbers Americana of 'Heaven Knows' is a case in point, as is 'Shattered & Hollow'; it's as if, somewhere along the way, the Söderberg sisters forgot that basic, overlapping vocal lines do not a harmony make.

This is still a lovely, lovely record, on the surface at least; I'm not sure it'll stand up quite as well to heavy rotation as its predecessor. It's a tune we've all heard plenty of times before, really; band signs to major, turns out safe, slightly watered-down re-tread of record that brought them to major's attention in the first place. The problem with that, though, is that this brand of commercially-viable folk-pop is completely ten-a-penny at the minute, and any kind of dilution of the winning formula - and there's evidence of it here, with apparent regression in the vocal approach - is likely to move you uncomfortably close to being indistinguishable from the crowd. "I won't take the easy road" is the opening track's refrain, but there's little on Stay Gold to suggest it's a statement based in truth.

This is the place you'll find reviews from 405 Readers. To join in, head here.