Sweden isn’t a place renowned for musical exports. (It’s unarguable, I tested it. I asked five people to name musicians from Sweden; three couldn’t, one nervously named ABBA, and the fifth, bizarrely, said Motorhead.) This is possibly why Lykke Li’s debut came as such a beautiful surprise. When Youth Novels sailed over in 2008, it turned the heads of music connoisseurs everywhere.
In the years since debut album ‘Youth Novels’ Li has had time to cultivate her own reasonably unique sound. Expect a downpour of hard hitting tribal drums, handclaps, brooding synths and “shoo-wops”.
On a record without a weak song, the most memorable are ‘Love out of Lust’, for it’s stargazing chorus, and the infectious single ‘I Follow Rivers’ which casts Li as a heartbroken Boudica, riding a chariot made of an unearthly pop beat to the sound of war drums, holding a burning torch high.
In a world of over-produced chart trash, the raw pop edges of Wounded Rhymes are a real blessing.
It’s also refreshing that her lyrics, although not always particularly well written, reflect real emotion, a fact wonderfully betrayed by the 24 year old’s consistently impressive vocals, which carry a weight far beyond her years.
What is also notable is Li’s ability to change pace in a heartbeat – flipping from tearful and tender (“once again it’s happening/all this love is unrequited“) to sexually aggressive (“I’m your prostitute/You gonna get some”) over two songs.
The soul of this album presents an interesting conflicted duality; for at it’s core Wounded Rhymes is a break-up record, but Li finds and harnesses a tangible strength from the wreckage. It is at once fun and sorrowful. Upon pillars of strength and vulnerability Li has created a record which could be fairly called an intriguing piece of art.
You can purchase Wounded Rhymes now, and check out lead single ‘I Follow Rivers’ below.