Review Summary: youth knows no pain.
Lykke Li’s debut record Youth Novels
was received reasonably well on its release in 2008, but its minimalistic approach to indie pop rendered it somewhat monotonous and I was never really impressed by any of her individual songs, let alone an entire album of them. Three years have passed and the Swedish sweetheart has returned to grace our ears with more of her airy vocals and graceful composition, except this time she has my full attention.
The first thing that struck me when listening to Wounded Rhymes
is how much Lykke Li had matured in the three years since her debut – there is a considerable development of her sound on this record, in respect to nearly every conceivable faculty. The minimalism in production and structure is still apparent to an extent, but only on a select few tracks; what really makes this album so good is the way Lykke Li has incorporated a more bombastic dynamic in several key tracks, somewhat reminiscent of Bat for Lashes
. Tracks like the ‘Youth Knows No Pain’ and ‘Jerome’ recall 80s synth-based pop music in all of its glory, but maintain a dark and cathartic mood that juxtaposes with the typical pop-inspired songs.
The aforementioned juxtaposition, however, is one thing that holds the record back, hindering it from being an entirely cohesive piece of work. While the moody and uplifting tranquillity of ‘Love Out of Lust’ is very welcome, one feels that it doesn’t quite go
with the dance-y likes of ‘Rich Kids Blues’. The same could be said about the poppy ‘Sadness is a Blessing’ compared to the slow-moving and therapeutic ‘I Know Places', or the anthemic nature of ‘Youth Knows No Pain’ compared to the Shangri-Las
-esque ‘Unrequited Love’. While this is only a minor complaint, it stops the record as a whole to be entirely fulfilling, despite the fact that there are some really great tracks here.
I can wholeheartedly say that I thoroughly enjoyed Wounded Rhymes
and continue to do so. It’s a huge improvement from her first album and shows that Lykke Li has finally become comfortable as a song-writer – hopefully this development that I’ve appreciated isn’t a one-off and she continues to advance. This record most certainly leads to the assumption that she will.