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Lykke Li Opens Up Her "Wounded Rhymes"

Lilian Min |
February 22, 2011 | 9:47 p.m. PST

Associate Entertainment Editor

Image via Creative Commons
Image via Creative Commons
Lykke Li made a big splash in the music scene with her 2008 debut album, “Youth Novels.” Following the independent success of such songs as “I’m Good, I’m Gone,” she collaborated with hitmakers like Swedish producer Kleerup (“Until We Bleed”) and N.A.S.A. (sharing “Gifted” with Kanye West and Santigold, no less).

Then, she released the track “Possibility” for the third "Twilight" film, "Eclipse," again achieving commercial success.

But it was only last year that Lykke Li released new album material, debuting the very forward single “Get Some.” Now, her new album “Wounded Rhymes” is set for release on Feb. 28th, although the album streams for free online.

From the faux-jazzy synth of the opener “Youth Knows No Pain,” to the ending echoes of  “Silent My Song,” “Wounded Rhymes” has the familiar kicks of “Youth Novel” underneath the gloss of musical maturity and probable upgraded production quality.

For starters, it seems that her vocals are a lot more smoothed out, with less of the jagged edge that punctuated her pronunciations before. Also, her vocals are consistently more airy, giving all of the tracks a more expansive quality.

On songs like “Love Out Of Lust,” “Unrequited Love,” and “I Know Places,” Lykke Li’s voice hovers over the backing track; this is not to say that her vocals are weak, but they take on a transparent, thinner quality over those slower, calmer numbers. “Unrequited Love” in particular is a lovely lyrical tune, with harmonies particularly reminiscent of those of gentler folk groups, a la Fleet Foxes.

At its worst though, such as in “Sadness Is A Blessing,” Lykke Li’s voice takes on an 80s shimmer (the bad kind); coupled with a backing track that sounds like a glitter shower in physical form, the entire track comes off as a melodramatic teen movie protagonist’s anthem, or at least that movie’s ending credits track.

But naturally, when layered over tracks with more percussive beats, like “Youth Knows No Pain,” “Get Some” and “Rich Kid Blues,” Lykke Li’s voice can still carry a punch, although the staccato effect she achieved on songs like “I’m Good, I’m Gone” is almost completely gone.

Even on “Get Some,” which has her crooning lyrics like “I’m your prostitute / Gonna get some” over a rugged bass line, Lykke Li doesn’t reach any of the vocal grit she had before.

What she’s gained in that place is a plaintive crooning that sounds magnificent paired with a beat just bold enough to provide clear direction for her vocals, and just calm enough to not overwhelm her voice.

This is especially clear on the tracks “Jerome” and “I Follow Rivers.” The latter in particular is an effortless aural seduction, despite (or rather, in conjunction with) the somewhat unsettling lyrics and song atmosphere.  

Easily the best track of the album, “I Follow Rivers” is a new height for Lykke Li, with enough quirkiness to keep her old fans but enough smoothness for new listeners to swallow.

So while listeners should not expect the rawer offerings of “Youth Novels,” “Wounded Rhymes” is no sophomore slump copout, and Lykke Li proves her staying success.

Reach Lilian Min here; follow her on Twitter here.


Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes (Hype Machine Album Exclusive) by LykkeLi



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