Lykke Li, the Swedish indie vocalist, is as heart-on-the-sleeves and emotive as ever before on her sophomore album, Wounded Rhymes. Although the twentysomething has never been one to shy away from her emotions, Wounded Rhymes finds her releasing herself in often dark and brooding musical gestures. For an album full of song titles like "Sadness is a Blessing" and "Rich Kids Blues", Wounded Rhymes is surprisingly extroverted, full of a number of upbeat tracks and lush production. Tracks like "Youth Knows No Pain" and "Unrequited Love" dress Lykke Li in the stylings of 70's AM-pop band She & Him, singing like Zooey Deschanel's depressed and moody little sister.
The album has a very cohesive sound with like-sounding instruments and production being used in each song. In a musical world where influences and sounds can come and go in even one song, its refreshing to hear Lykke remain faithful to the distorted drums, quirky organ, and slightly lo-fi production. The sounds are a little more dirty and cluttered than they were in her previous album, Youth Novels, but represent a more matured and comprehensive fit for Lykke Li's personality. Ultimately, the sound of Wounded Rhymes is incredibly memorable and is sure to make an impression in your mind. It would have been easy for Lykke's overly melodramatic personality to outrun the actual music, but Lykke's knack for writing infectious melodies keeps the pace and feel of the album just about right.
Although I wouldn't dare call it hopeful, "Love Out of Lust", which might be the strongest track on the album, is one of the rare brighter moments on the album where she sings of the strength of a relationship over the strength of the individual: "We will live longer than I will/We will be better than I was". In an album full of somber relationship problems and identity struggles, it would have been great to get a few more tracks that saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Stepping the edge of self-pity for most of the album, Lykke finally gets so down that she gets to the inevitable track "Sadness is a Blessing" where she sings this unfortunate line: "Sadness is a blessing, sadness is a pearl/Sadness is my boyfriend, sadness I'm your girl". While I'd love to feel sorry for Lykke more, that kind of writing is trying a little too hard. Fortunately, when she isn't wallowing in her own depression, Lykke is a strong and creative songwriter that has made a successful album to represent that. For the most part, Wounded Rhymes is a great mid-winter downer that manages to turn her overwhelming sadness into a blessing for us.
Lykke Li - Love Out of Lust