Lykke Li: Wounded Rhymes (Atlantic) | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Issue #35 - Winter 2011 - Death Cab for CutieLykke Li

Wounded Rhymes

Atlantic

Mar 11, 2011 Issue #35 - Winter 2011 - Death Cab for Cutie Bookmark and Share


On her 2008 debut Youth Novels, Lykke Li scored a hit with “I’m Good, I’m Gone” by essentially rewriting Lee Dorsey’s “Working in a Coal Mine.” A clever piece of repositioning for sure, but as part of an album notable for its experimentation, it remained unclear if she could replicate its earwormy success without retread. The answer? Yes. And no.

Like Youth Novels before it, Wounded Rhymes is a mixed bagthe expression of an artist still finding her voice. The multi-faceted performance comes effortlessly: a heartsick little girl in Shangri-Las reminiscent “Unrequited,” coquettish temptress in “I Follow Rivers,” a world-weary soul in “Sadness Is a Blessing”Lykke Li embodies them all with equal conviction. While she’s unlikely to win any new fans with lines such as “I’ve got the rich kid blues,” her ever-shifting personae assures a level of emotional accessibility across a wide spectrum of listeners. If Madonna can make a career out of being all things to all people, so can Lykke Li.

The problem comes when Lykke Li steps out of her range musically. Possessing a tactile voice that feels born of heartbreak, she shines front-and-center in stripped down guitar-and-voice track, “I Know Places.” The ballad also highlights the album’s greatest flaw. Stuffed with commanding beats and multi-layered production, her idiosyncratic pipes too often get lost in the fray. She comes out swinging in opener “Youth Knows No Pain,” and holds her own against tribal drums and electronic drone in “Get Some,” but her thin upper-register is no match for “Jerome,” or the near-shrieked chorus of “Rich Kid Blues.” It’s a disconcerting auditory wrestling match that no solo artist should have to undergo on her own albumparticularly since it’s a battle often lost. Here’s hoping Lykke Li’s next album isn’t just another show of strength, but rather, domination. (www.lykkeli.com)

Author rating: 6/10

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