March 1, 2011
Wounded Rhymes is the follow up to Lykke Li's first indie pop album, Youth Novels. Following in suit, this second album is both blatantly sexy and tinged with sweetness, the artistic sweat of a sexy Swedish femme fatale who describes herself as an introvert. This may sound like an oxymoron, but Lykke Li shows both her skin and her desire for an intimate tenderness in this 10-track long mixture of dance energy and romantic ballads.
"Youth Knows No Pain" starts the album off strong with a phenomenal energy that will knock your teapots straight to the floor. The beats and the rhythms swirl frenetically around the listener like karate kids and Samurai masters weaving a ribbon of pumped up liveliness into your blood. It's like a modern tribute to primal, tribal dance beats around a fire. Oh, it's so fun and it's so many things, and it will make you want to move. What follows is "I follow rivers," another world music moment that twirls like a fast-paced ballroom dance. Lykke Li's sweet honey voice over wild, earthy drums and the clanging of electronic instruments invoke some deeply buried urge to throw off all conventions and sing with the moon.
These first two songs are probably the highlight of the album, and though I love the luscious tones of Lykke Li's voice, the next two songs abruptly transition into the slower tempo of two love ballads. These make an especially jarring contrast with the high energy in-your-face sexy "Get Some" that follows. "Like a shotgun needs an outcome, I'm your prostitute," the shy star sings, still retaining some of the sadness that was present in "Unrequited Love." "Get Some" is a great pop song that will get stuck in your head.
"Rich Kids Blues" touches on the existential pain of privilege, and by this point I am beginning to think that this pop star may actually be an artist of the soul and a deep thinker, as she describes herself. "Sadness is a Blessing," though wonderfully rhythmic and yearning, and "I Know Places," just blatantly sad, are again a bit strangely slow in an album that initially leads you to believe it will be mostly upbeat, a little weird and danceable. If you are looking for the softer, sweeter side of Lykke Li, this will be an album for you, but if you crave the pop beats, you may find yourself missing these elements.
The album concludes with more of the eclectic freshness we love from Lykke Li, electronic claps and dreamy vocals in "Jerome" mimicking a thunder storm of emotions. However, I wonder if listeners are able to make it through the pockets of stillness in the middle to enjoy the last two songs. "Silent My Song" sounds like a slow, ancient journey down into the depths of the earth with echoing gongs emphasizing every step. I imagine the blonde superstar bound in rags with her head down, marching to her fate. This album is undoubtedly more subdued and mellow than I expected, and I'll grant her artistic license, but as a listening experience, it took me up high then let me down low, lacking a consistency of energy. But as a pop album, do expect the funkier songs to get stuck in your head, perhaps, if you're like me, accompanied by images of an elegantly cartwheeling Lykke Li.
Best song: Youth Knows No Pain
Here To Submit Your CD For Review
Reviewer Bio - Nancy Woo, managing editor at OnlineRock, studied Sociology, Literature and Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz. A self-described "bohemian of sorts" she spends most of her time listening to music, reading, writing, freelancing in the world of journalism, tutoring writing, running, practicing yoga, attending live music and theater shows.