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Wounded Rhymes – Lykke Li

Mar 13th 2011
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Wounded Rhymes - Lykke LiLykke Li
Wounded Rhymes
Score: 81








Swedish singer-songwriter Lykke Li released her debut album, Youth Novels, three years ago. That album, while flawed in certain aspects, did an impressive job of introducing Li to the indie world. Earlier this month, Li released her second LP, Wounded Rhymes. Wounded Rhymes not only addresses the majority of the issues with Youth Novels, but represents an impressive piece of work in and of itself.

Instrumentally, Wounded Rhymes presents an odd sort of mix. The colorful, bombastic sound that opens “Youth Knows No Pain” strikes a sharp contrast with the more subdued, bassy sound of “Love Out of Lust.” This sort of sonic differentiation is common across the album, and extends not only to the sort of sound Li uses for each track but to the way in which that sound interacts with the rest of the album. On a track like “Jerome,” Li’s voice is on equal footing with the instrumentals, weaving in and out of a simple but carefully formed rhythm. On the other hand, in “Love Out of Lust” the instrumentals serve as support for Li, allowing her voice to ring out clear and sharp.

Li’s voice falls into a rather unique category, embodying as it does elements of a number of different genres. Li’s voice is simultaneously delicate and weighty, conveying both melancholy and joy through carefully shifting rhythm. It doesn’t hurt that Wounded Rhymes‘ instrumentals are well-tailored to Li’s voice. As both the instrumentals and Li’s voice are generally quite fluid, Wounded Rhymes manages to avoid stagnating even when one becomes more constant, thanks to the presence and freshness of the other.

Lyrically, Wounded Rhymes is a bit of a mixed bag. Some of the album’s messages seem a bit overwrought (say, the majority of “Get Some”), but others strike exactly the chord the album seems to be aiming for. It’s hard not to understand at least some of what Li is expressing when she begs “sadness,” here treated as a being in and of itself, “not to go,” wondering “Will sorrow be the only lover I can call my own?” Perhaps that sort of sentiment is a bit of a cliché, but in this case it certainly doesn’t come off that way. Instead, Li turns it into genuine sentiment – and it works.

Given that Wounded Rhymes is only Li’s second album, there’s not many comparisons to be made yet, but, even given her impressive debut, this newest album is certainly her best work. That doesn’t make it perfect, but it does pay tribute to excellent vocals, well-composed instrumentals, and largely engrossing lyrics. As a whole, Wounded Rhymes makes an excellent second LP. There’s certainly no sophomore slump to speak of here, and we look forward to Li’s next work.


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