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Album Review
Wounded Rhymes

Wounded Rhymes
by Lykke Li

LL Recordings

Review Date
21s January 2011
Reviewed by
Courtney Sanders

In the video for ‘Get Some’, the first single from sophomore album Wounded Rhymes, Lykke Li is dancing around akin (but not as expertly as) to Beyonce, in a get-up equally as revealing pronouncing her sexual proclivities amidst a whirlwind of cascading capes and monotonic, tribal, kaleidoscopic overlays. This song, and the album more generally is a coming-of-age tome: both as an artist - she is undoubtedly going to be the latest in a sea of female singer-songwriters to cross over to the mainstream – and as a person, she is declaring herself (for lack of a better phrase) all woman.

If the title wasn’t explanatory enough, Wounded Rhymes is about heartbreak, and those poetic sentiments that accompany it. While lead single ‘Get Some’ professes this as an aggressive sexual encounter, stomping its way through three and a half minutes of powerful pop, there are ballads abound, particularly ‘Love out of Lust’ and the subsequent ‘Unrequited Love’. It is here that her vocal uniqueness stands out and stops these slow burners translating as banal fillers. Emotive, off-kilter and un-definitive, Li meanders along, holding surprising notes, omitting various phrases and injecting her Scandinavian scrawl into this lost-love-fest. Heavier tracks are no less worthy, and ‘Youth Knows No Pain’, for example is the stand out of the album, for its ability to bring into play all of Li’s unique attributes: her vocal ability, the sultry, uniquely Scandinavian nature of the percussion, the dark ephemeral nature of her songwriting approach and the pop perspective Wounded Rhymes is underpinned by. As a deep, haunting organ cements the melody, Li’s words ‘Come on get down / Come on get down / Youth Knows no pain’ skip harshly across an awkward drum beat, leading both parts into a cacophonous chorus.

Ultimately it’s this eclectic sonic landscape that allows the listener to maintain interest throughout the entirety of the album, coupled with Li’s innate ability to marry appropriate lyrical and aesthetic sentiment to each track, that holds Wounded Rhymes together. On the one hand, tracks like ‘Get Some’ contain the pop elements one would expect from a pretty blonde songstress writing about love. However, between these radio-friendly edits are striking, almost choral ballads that demonstrate a reserved, subtle maturity, while less frequently (yet scattered across all ten tracks) a darkness blankets the album with haunting synthesizers woven through stomping drums and spat-spoken vocals.

If Youth Novels introduced Lykke Li as an approachable, European darling, money’s on Wounded Rhymes cementing her as the international indie crossover for 2011.


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