If Lykke Li’s debut album, Youth Novels, was an insight into what it means to be a horny 19-year old, her follow-up, Wounded Rhymes, describes what happens when the illusion of love is shattered. The album is a mix of feisty, don’t-fuck-with-me-I-am-a-woman-now declarations, such as ‘Get Some’ and calmer, considered songs like ‘Love Out of Lust’, where Li sagely advises people to “dance whilst you can”. On a basic level, Wounded Rhymes is a great pop album, featuring the unusual percussion and frank lyrics we have come to expect from her. Li spent her childhood in Portugal and Sweden, before moving to New York. She describes herself as restless – getting fed up of touring, but being bored during time off at home, suggesting she is still a somewhat fidgety nomad. However, she shows a desire to settle down on several album tracks such as ‘Jerome’, where she implores: “Now you’re mine / You’re mine again / Swear you’ll never leave me”. How such a talented woman can get so hung up over a guy with a ridiculous name like Jerome is beyond me, but then this is the same woman who recently told Pitchfork: “Some people watch comedy to relax. I watch 21 Grams.” Although the overriding feeling of Wounded Rhymes is one of heartbreak, the first single from the album, ‘Get Some’ is all about female empowerment.For some commentators, Li’s declaration of “I’m a prostitute, you gon’ get some”, came as a bit of a shock, but they clearly failed to pick out lyrics such as “For you I’d keep my legs apart” that featured on her so-called ‘cutesy’ debut album. Another forthright song is ‘Rich Kid Blues’, which, if you stick on your iPod for your walk into lectures, may help explain why you encounter so many Barbour-jacketed people languishing on Woodland Road. Quieter songs like ‘Unrequited Love’ are the real album highlights, though. Conveying the frustration of rejection, Li shows her vulnerability as she laments, “Once again it’s happening / All this love is unrequited / Twice the pain, the suffering”. But if you thought that was sad, it’s going to get worse with time. “This album is an intense love story gone wrong,” she says. “When I’m older I’ll have plenty of time to get more depressing”. Crikey.
-from Issue 236 (7.3.11) of Epigram. You can read the rest of the Music section here.