Plumbiferous Media

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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