Skip to main content

Youth may know no pain, but Lykke Li does.

When world-traveller (Swedish by birth, of course, as most good things are) Lykke Li found her way upon the popular scene in 2008, she was young. She was vulnerable; she was alluring. She spoke with a tarnished innocence and her husky, whispery voice matched, just the same. After all: it was for YOU she kept her legs apart.

In 2011, then, Li has returned after a certainly long-enough absence. Some artists return after a gap and it's like they've been there, the whole time. Nothing's changed. Dust has gathered on their act, tired and routine. However, for Miss Li (not to be confused with that particular singer, also Swedish) things are decidedly different. The innocence is gone. Lykke Li has grown old, before her 20something years.

But with age, comes maturity. Comes a developed sex appeal. She has learned her lessons and she's got her broken heart on display, under the weak protection of her ribs.

"I was born with a broken heart," she said in a revealing interview with Fader magazine, where she detailed the process of getting Wounded Rhymes (even that title alone says it all) recorded. In that time, she was holed up in her native Stockholm* (unhappily) and went through some personal problems (more unhappily). With her new album, the listener is an involved witness with her struggles. You are more or less a part of a slow-motion car crash and it is beautiful.

"Get Some" is an interesting blowjob of a song. That title also does not lie: boy, whoever you are, you gonna get some (lucky boy!) That's why I called it a "blowjob of a song." Like a shotgun....

In that song, Li displays a bravado unforeseen by the likes of her before. She's cocky, she's taking the listener by the genitals and forcing them into submission. Normally, I am wary of such play by a singer. Katy Perry isn't getting in my pants anytime soon, I'll say. But from Lykke, I welcome the domination. And I am sure I am not alone, here.

"I Follow Rivers" is the second single and, for me, the hands-down best track on the album. Why? She's so damned soulful here. She's ripping herself apart for the sake of the song (to borrow a Townes Van Zandt phrase). Li has gone on about the influences of 1960s girl groups and soul music on her own work and here, I think, it's very easily beheld. Of course, she's taken that ante and bumped it up some for audiences a la 2011.

Despite her wailing pleas, Li never comes off as desperate on "I Follow Rivers." She never once swallows her pride. Hell, she doesn't even taste it. She's stating her claim and telling you what exactly she will do. There's no escaping her, nah. But you wouldn't want to, would you?

"Youth Knows No Pain" is oddly playful as it is somewhat bleak, as is "Rich Kid's Blues," (code for when the Olsen Twins realize Starbucks has spiked their prices) which seems more like a wry observation and perhaps a commentary on herself than anything else.
And her lyrics are as sharp as ever. Take "Silent My Song" for instance.

There really is no weak track to single out on Wounded Rhymes. Really. Some songs will take some getting used to, but I can happily say the first listen of this album, I didn't skip a track. And I still haven't. "Jerome" is low and foreboding and what is she doing with a fella named Jerome, anyway?
Like its predecessor, there's a very raw, almost tribal element on this album. Which, I would think, has more to do with her eclectic life than anything else. This woman did spend some time living in Nepal, you know.

Therein, I think we have settled upon one of the best albums of 2011. So early in the game, too! Pain will always make great art and Lykke Li is another footnote to this age-old story. She's gotten older, but she's not irrelevant. And her rhymes might be wounded, but this is a woman bleeding with her head held high.

rating: A
tracks to hear: "I Follow Rivers," "Youth Knows No Pain"

*I still do not understand how anyone can be unhappy in Stockholm.

p.s. I SHOULD be seeing her live in May. ;)
she's touring, like, everywhere. for real.


  1. sounds like really poetic stuff.

    also, you are correct.
    How can you be unhappy in Sweden?
    Jag nej forstoor........

  2. If you can't see her live, see her dead.

  3. She could perform a special concert on GHost Hunters.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

3 New Lana Songs Come Out From Upcoming Album "Blue Banisters"

Not even that far off from "Chemtrails Over The Country Club" being released this past March, Lana Del Rey dropped three new singles off her upcoming project, "Blue Banisters." They include the title track, "Text Book," and "Wildflower Wildfire." All three songs seem to merge the worlds of "COCC" with "Norman Fucking Rockwell," specifically Lana's mouthful of a track "Hope is a Dangerous Thing for a Woman Like Me To Have But I Have It." They also seem uncharacteristically more confessional than most of Lana's catalog to date, specifically "Wildflower Wildfire," which alludes to a conflict with her mother. She even starts the track with "Here's the deal," readying to show more of her backstory than she ever has in her decade-plus-long career. The three songs are gorgeous - especially "Text Book," which has a haunting quality to it (she mentions "Black Lives Matter" i

Tusse releases French Language Version of "Voices"

In case you missed Eurovision this past weekend - and if you're an American, you likely did - there were some truly talented acts among those competing for this year's prestigious title. There were some pretty boring acts, and there were only a few of truly strange contestants this time around (bummer).  Sweden's act Tusse was pretty talented; his joyful and uplifting track "Voices" was actually one of the few that seemed rather memorable to me. Turns out he's releasing it in French - which makes sense, as Tusse is Kongo-Kinshasa born. Tusse is enormously popular in Sweden from what I can tell, having won both Melodifestivalen (Sweden's precursor to Eurovision) and Swedish Idol. He's a talented guy, and I'm sure we're just seeing the start of what is bound to be a long and prolific career.   (you might not be able to watch this outside of Sweden so, see below) The French version of "Voices" is available for streaming here .  Also, whi

"Round the Bend" - Zoon (Beck cover)

My favorite album of Beck's has long been "Sea Change," for approximately the 20 or so years it's been out. I would probably regard it as one of my personal favorite records, for its wistfulness and its beauty. When I heard about Zoon (aka Zoongide’ewin) - the musical project of Daniel Monkman - covering the "Sea Change" track "Round the Bend," I was somewhat skeptical simply because the album holds such a place in my heart. Now, prior to hearing about this cover, I wasn't so familiar with the work of Zoon. And now, I've got to say, in my best Owen Wilson - Wow.  Apparently we both hold the 2003 Beck album in high esteem. Said Daniel about "Sea Change," "After my first listen I was so moved and at the time I was going through a pretty bad break up and this album helped me process my depression. Throughout my time away from music I’d always have a copy beside me; it kept inspiring me that I could try any kind of music style. I