Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes (Atlantic Records)

March 13, 2011 by  

Lykke Li has swapped/replaced her sweet innocent-pop infused sound with desolation, light aggression and tristesse on her second album, Wounded Rhymes.

The 24 year old Swedish singer quickly became a success in Scandinavia (well deserved), with her highly-acclaimed d?but album Youth Novels in 2008. Her d?but was dominated by fragile ’60s chamber pop, hints of electronica and lyrics reflecting loneliness, grieving romance and hints of desperation. The soft percussions, ’60s ‘doo-wop’ elements, cryptic lyrics and the sugary melodies are far from abandoned on ‘Wounded Rhymes’. However, as an album it?s much heavier and darker, with delicate contrasts portraying the underlying restlessness and sometimes harrowing emotional landscape that is being presented throughout.

It’s no secret that Lykke Li doesn?t posses the strongest vocals, but they are distinct, introvert and perfectly match her low-key and alternative pop melodies. Her songs appear innocent and youthful on the surface, but have an unruly rebellious edge to them; experimenting with different genres, yet without overdoing it.

Lost love, frustration and sadness are still the main themes in her songs. On ‘Sadness is a Blessing’ she laments ‘I ranted, I pleaded, I beg him not to go/ For sorrow, the only lover I’ve ever known’ and on ‘Love Out of Lust? she cries ‘Rather die in your arms, than die lonesome/?Rather die hard, than die hollow.’

‘I Follow Rivers’, is the highlight of the album with a swaggering, seducing intensity and a brooding bass line. ‘Get some’ is an upbeat and salacious tune that deals with masculine and feminine perceptions over pounding, hollow drum beats while ‘Unrequited Love’ is a rhetoric folk song, clearly inspired by PJ Harvey.

‘Wounded Rhymes’ may not be as melodic and nuanced as her d?but, and some of her lyrics do border on the banal – ‘Sadness is my boyfriend/sadness is my girlfriend she sings on ‘Sadness Is a Blessing’ – but Lykke Li appears more experienced and confident, and the album feels authentic, personal and creatively produced. This is honest and sober music with a soul, but I still believe there?s more of Lykke Li we haven?t seen yet.