Swedish indie-pop sweetheart Lykke Li returns in her second album Wounded Rhymes with a clear intention to set the record straight: she is not limited to playing the role of a pop princess. She evokes a menacing sex-appeal (or attempts to) in the album that challenges any generalizations listeners may have made about her image or career.
Li began receiving attention in 2007 with the release of her Little Bit EP. She was dubbed an artist to watch by publications such as Stereogum, and her reputation as a cute and playful contender formed. In 2008 Lykke Li worked with Bjorn Yttling (from Peter Bjorn & John) who produced her first full length album, Youth Novels. The debut album solidified her image as an electric sugar sweet pop artist.
In Wounded Rhymes she drops the baby act and delves into a much darker and stone-faced persona. Although Li is earnest and explicit, the songs may be lacking a certain lyrical complexity. Li sings, “Once again this all is happening/ twice the pain the suffering/ all my love is unrequited” in the track “Unrequited Love.” It is these simple and stripped ballads that showcase Li’s actual talent as a singer and songwriter. While the effort to reinvent herself as an artist is respectable, Wounded Rhymes as a whole does not showcase that talent and relatable feeling found in select tracks.
In the single “Get Some” she declares “I’m your prostitute/ you gon’ get some” an obvious shift from the hopeful cooing of a Youth Novels Lykke Li. This sexual energy and obsession present in her album is indeed interesting but holds no substance. It is the same story with the track “Rich Kid Blues.” The flat tone in her voice and spectral synthesizer may sound mysterious, but anyone singing about the “rich kid blues” is bound to lose the interest of serious lyric appreciators. Emanating a Swedish Santogold of sorts, Lykke Li comes forth as a fiery female artist on Wounded Rhymes, but it would have been nice to see her utilize her strength in minimalism a bit more.
WPGU Music Staff Rating: W-P-½
Key Tracks: “I Follow Rivers”, “Unrequited Love”, “Jerome”
Recommended if you like: Robyn, Bat For Lashes, and The xx.
W = Poor
W-P = Fair
W-P-G = Great
W-P-G-U = An instant classic!