Crack in the Road

Musical pre-conceptions are always a dangerous thing to have, sooner or later the best musicians find a way to blow those pre-conceptions apart; “Wounded Rhymes” the second record from 24 year old Swedish pop siren Lyyke Li does just that.

Lyyke Ii’s debut album 2008‘s “Youth Novels” was a delicate piece of modern pop, a compendium of sweet lilting Scandinavian lullabies, pleasant and melodic but rather lightweight. “Youth Novels” success seemed to pigeon hole Lyyke as yet another in a seemingly endless conveyor belt of beautifully sweet Scandinavian pop stars, however, “Wounded Rhymes” is an altogether deeper and darker affair that should completely dispel that reputation.

In press interviews leading up to the release of this record Lykke Li has spoke of the album having a theme of “Heartbreak” not just strictly in a relationship sense but a more all encompassing heartbreak, how the sadness of existence and the world around you can simply break your heart and how you can indeed break your own heart. “Wounded Rhymes” is a record of intense emotions, desires and feelings a world away from the shy little girl of the previous record who thought she might have been “A little bit in love with you.” “Wounded Rhymes” makes this desire explicit.

The first example of the new stronger willed and attitude filled Lykke Li arrived last year with album taster “Get Some” and what a striking return it was. A thrilling rumble of a record, the tribal drums beat an incessant pattern as the lyrics provoke and tease, “Like A shotgun needs an outcome, I’m your prostitute your gon’ get some.” “Get Some” is the sound of a young girl liberated.

Production is again helmed by Bjorn Yttling, of Peter, Bjorn and John, and the musical accompaniment he provides matches the darker sound.

This a very percussive record dominated by drums, voice and organ. The organ plays a leading role in album opener “Youth Knows No Pain” A fabulously groovy organ intro ushers in the first of this records many big chorus with the repeated hook of the title.

This stronger, strident sound is a feature throughout the album and is matched by Lykke li’s powerful voice, deep in resonance and expression. “Love Out Of Lust” is the first of two show-stopping ballads on the album and again finds Lyyke in emotional turmoil; “I’d rather die in your arms than die lonesome” rather than drowning in a maudlin torpor, however, the song climaxes in an uplifting crescendo; “ So dance while you can, Dance cause you must.”

The highlight of the album is the second grandstanding ballad “Sadness is a Blessing” coming across like a 21st century Dusty Springfield, Lykke’s voice ripples with passion as she pours her heart out. “My wounded rhymes make silent cries tonight” The melody is terrific and this track is a highly effective update on a classic sound.

The albums does flag somewhat during the slightly weaker second half, the interminable six minute dirge of “ I Know Places” could easily be pruned and “Jerome” is rather underwhelming.

The lyrical content throughout the record is very direct and simple and mostly incredibly affecting, however at times the sense of morbidity is so strong that even a well known miserablist like Morrissey would cringe, nevertheless, these criticisms do not detract from what is a very good record.

With “Wounded Rhymes” Lykke Li has shown that she is not just a 2 dimensional sugary sweet popstar but a well rounded and developed musician with unbounded potential. This is a sound of heartbreak to wallow in and embrace.