REVIEW: Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes

Lykke Li, the alluring Swedish songstress captivated many with her debut album, Youth Novels, but not being one to box herself in, she ushers in her eagerly-awaited follow-up, Wounded Rhymes. Whereas before her songs seemed to mostly have softly-sung lyrics and sad tales of love, Lykke Li displayed a kind of feminine dominance coupled with a loud, brash musicality in the run up to this release. Songs like “Get Some” and “I Follow Rivers” both stand-out examples of this new sound that still stand up well on the album.

The album opens with “Youth Knows No Pain”, a boisterous intro that entices and ensnares with it’s repeated titular assurance. Listening, especially after those last singles, you’d probably expect that the whole album would follow this pattern. Especially as the opener is followed by prior-released “I Follow Rivers”, it’s dark 80′s synth-pop vibes sounding as powerful as ever and Lykke’s submissive/dominating apex to her lyrics still intriguing, yet like Youth Novels, this album is tinged with sadness and songs of a calmed disposition. “Love Out Of Lost”, a “personal favourite” song of Lykke’s, which she previewed before the album’s release, is first evidence of this, sounding like a developed version of the song she did for the New Moon soundtrack.

This isn’t a bad thing, because as I was expecting an album full of edginess, being comforted by Lykke Li’s soothing tones has been a pleasant counter. Of course, it has shadows of her debut, but with great tracks like “Unrequited Love” and “Sadness Is A Blessing” you gain the sense that her musicality and ambition has grown, with songs full of epic swooning and ironically euphoric choruses. This isn’t to say that those bolder tracks are weaker in comparison, oh no, I just feel that despite making some moves into this different style of song-writing, she never pushed it far enough to encapsulate a whole album in one style, obviously feeling stronger and more convincing in what she has produced prior.

It’s fittingly “Jerome”, one of the more grand songs that seems to be simultaneously full of love and hate for this one person, “You got me, for nothing, Jerome” that has really impressed and got me hooked on the album, slower than tracks like “Get Some” but more reflective of the album as a whole, effectively bridging the divide between too competing styles. It’s addictive, the album’s highlight, that coupled with the concluding track “Silent My Song” makes the rest of it seem like a fitting build-up. As much as I adore Lykke Li and more than a handful of the songs on this album, Wounded Rhymes definitely has it’s flaws.

STREAM: “Jerome” + “Silent My Song”
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