Wounded Rhymes (Deluxe Version)
Lykke Li’s 2008 debut, Youth Novels, seemed to revel in its spare pop sound, with some songs shivering in their nakedness while delivering slightly experimental but soulful pop that intrigued the listener. On the Swedish star’s follow-up, Wounded Rhymes, Li goes for bigger and bolder statements, especially riffing on ‘60s girl groups, turning their naïve and vulnerable cores inside out. Songs like the catchy, finger-snapping “Youth Knows No Pain” and the winsome “Sadness Is A Blessing” are full of ringing piano, syncopated handclaps and tambourines. The rest of the album carries a less pronounced vintage feel, though the “wall of sound” reverb is omnipresent. “Get Some” and “Rich Kid Blues” are dark and fertile, full of exciting percussion and atmospherics (twangy guitar, booming bass drums, sitars), and Li’s vocals are powerful throughout — she’s left the waif behind. Though Li is young, and collaborates on projects with mainstream names like Kanye West, Glee and Twilight, her work is mature and sophisticated, far from the formulaic, watered down pap often served up in commercial form.