Swede displays new grit

Swede displays new grit

Wounded Rhymes is indie princess Lykke Li's second album. Gone is the cute appeal of early hits like Little Bit - the singer from Sweden has acquired some grit.

Opener Youth Knows No Pain introduces Li's new approach. The chorus sets up the dark sound that permeates the album. Despite an unvarying mood, there are surprises, as Li draws on a range of styles. There are tribal drums on I Follow Rivers, synthesised electro-pop in numbers such as Rich Kids Blues, and a mournful whistle solo on Love Out of Lust.

Li borrows from the past, too: the sassy Get Some is a throwback to 60s folk rock, and there's 1950s doo-wop on the brilliant Unrequited Love, a sparse ballad with a pared-down guitar. Faint "shoo-wops" offset Li's plaintive assertion that "All [her] love is unrequited", and prove Li's vocals work best when she lets her vulnerability show.

Influenced by the likes of Leonard Cohen, Neil Young and Velvet Underground, it's no wonder Li's songs are sombre, and she can tend towards the over-dramatic. Some lyrics are so cryptic it's hard to decide if they're brilliant or just overdone.

Li may take herself too seriously, but this is how she conveys youthful heartache so well. Atmospheric and almost gothic, Wounded Rhymes is the perfect expression of teen life.

YP Rating: 4/5

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