Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Time For Lykke Li's Wounded Rhymes

Lykke LiIn November, it was hard not to give a nod to Li Lykke Timotej Zachrisson a.k.a. Lykke Li with what appeared to be a shift from pop and electronic to a smokier alternative sound. The snarling and exciting single Get Some hinted as much.

But this isn't always the case with her new album, Wounded Rhymes. It has its moments across the 10-track album (and bonus track), some of them better than others. Yet, in between the hits there are misses for her evolving fan base.

The very best of the album showcases those occasions when Lykke Li finds her passion inside every note. When that happens, you immediately become lost in her voice and everything that surrounds it.

The addictive quality comes across at its peak in two variable speeds — broodingly thoughtful isolation and aggressively unrestrained firestorms.

Wounded Rhymes works best at its extremes.

Wounded Rhymes is still a significant departure from Youth Novels, with her voice significantly more mature than four years ago. Comparing the two albums side by side, she could be a different singer outside of the backing arrangements.

While dramatically fuller than some of the minimalist cuts in her debut, I Follow Rivers, Rich Kids Blues, and Jerome still provide a bit of a bridge between the two. Yet, it's these songs that do not fully represent where Lykke Li sounds her best. Six songs do.

Youth Knows No Pain and Get Some are the brilliant up tempo tracks while Love Out Of Lust, Unrequited Love, I Know Places, and the bonus track Made You Move carry riveting down tempo broodiness much like the B-side Paris Blue did off the single. All four of these emotional songs are different, but each captures the same rawness we heard last year in Stockholm with the performance of her song Possibly. Did you miss it? Here it is.

I was hoping Possibility would make the cut as another bonus track for Wounded Rhymes. Instead, and in addition to Made You Move, the deluxe version includes a tribalized video of Get Some, which rocks, and an untitled art video with an extended opening of Lykke Li chained to a small patch of a duo-tone island and there is not a stitch of singing.

Don't purchase the video on its own. It mostly defines the contrast between abandonment and anger elsewhere in the album. If you do want to purchase a video, Get Some (with knives) is the right choice. It literally makes her a native. Of course, purchase the album and you get it all anyway. This one rides the fence between individual tracks and a total ticket.

Lykke Li's Get Some And Paris Blue Rip An 7.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

While the single slightly scored higher on its own last November and there is no denying many songs are timeless, there are a few tracks that skirt that middle ground. Along with that, Sadness Is Blessing is a throwaway from the opening note. It has the right lyrics and wrong presentation, with her voice surprisingly strained at times. I had to delete it.

The rest I'll keep, especially those that are remarkable and will give anyone more than enough cause to look up Wounded Rhymes by Lykke Li on iTunes. You can also find Wounded Rhymes on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, where there will be a vinyl edition for the album. The added warmth will be worthwhile.
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