Album Review: Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes

By on Thursday, 3rd March 2011 at 12:00 pm

I remember the first Lykke Li song I ever heard. It was ‘Little Bit’. Definitely sounded European to me, but I was surprised to learn later that the woman singing it was a waiflike creature from Sweden who enjoyed listening to a Tribe Called Quest in her free time. A couple months later, she came to America and I caught her at her first appearance in Washington. I was interested in primarily for her dance-flavoured tracks – ‘I’m Good I’m Gone’, ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’, ‘Breaking It Up’ – but my general feeling was that 2008’s ‘Youth Novels’ showed Lykke Li showed incredible potential, but the album itself was uneven in quality. Fast forward to 2011 If ‘Youth Novels’ was an album of Lykke Li’s youth, then her latest effort, ‘Wounded Rhymes’, is a testament to her maturity in songwriting as well as life. She has lived and loved – and wants to share those feelings with the world.

The album begins with ‘Youth Knows No Pain’, which, along with ‘Rich Kids Blues’, ‘Jerome’ and first single released last autumn, ‘Get Some’ (review here, video here), represent the jarringly rhythmic and tribal ‘half’ of the album. ‘I Follow Rivers’ (review here) is more ‘Youth Novels’ dance era, which is not a bad thing at all; it’s sultry and it’s easy to see why it was chosen as a single. And Lykke Li is still a dancer, just with more finesse: see the lovely ‘Love Out of Lust’, with the emphatic words “dance while you can!”

On the flipside of the dancier tunes is the softer side of the Swedish singer/songwriter. ‘Unrequited Love’, with its female doowop vocals, is more Motown than you might expect. Proof that she has suffered a broken heart and has lived to tell the tale, ‘Sadness is a Blessing’ is Lykke Li channeling Dusty Springfield, just without the big hair. I never thought I’d say this but I actually think I like this woman better when she’s putting her heart on her sleeve, not holding back the emotions, than when she’s trying to be sexy by singing a dance tune through a megaphone.

I think Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura said it best: “if you were a season, you would be in bloom”. This may be only Lykke Li’s second album, but she’s managed to put together an almost perfect rose: mature and fully-formed. I imagine that she’ll be a force to be reckoned with when she goes on the road across Europe beginning in April and beyond.


‘Wounded Rhymes’, the new album from Lykke Li, is available now on the singer/songwriter’s own label, LL.

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