Lykke Li’s debut album “Youth Novels” established the artist as a cutesy, bashful Swedish songstress. Her songs, composed of simple, heartfelt verses, expose sensitivity while still remaining danceable. Li’s sophomore album, however, is the antithesis of her first.
“Wounded Rhymes” chills the warmth of “Novels,” for Li has matured into a sorrowful siren swaying in isolation. The album is a tender compilation of throbbing tunes that reveal Li to be a hurt songbird. It is dark and desolate — a true product of heartbreak.
Li’s first single from the album is the ritualistic “Get Some.” Abrasive and sexual, this song is unlike anything Li has ever belted. With lyrics like “I’m your prostitute / you gon’ get some” and “Don’t pull your pants before I go down / don’t turn away this is my time” this song has a strong beat, but remains rough around the edges.
“I Follow Rivers” is Li’s second single from the album. Loaded with organic pipes, wiggling slams and claps, this song echoes the catchiness and danceablility of Li’s original tunes. She promises her lover, “I’ll, I’ll follow / I’ll follow you deep sea, baby,” as she aggressively stalks her soul mate.
“Sadness is a Blessing” is a track teeming with shaky tambourines and piano keys that pulse like the pangs of a distressed heart. It’s a somberly sweet, brooding ballad in which Li sentimentally proclaims, “Sadness is my boyfriend / oh, sadness, I’m your girl.”
“I Know Places” is the longest and most stripped-down number on the album. The cries of a guitar strings and Li’s reverberating crooning conjure an atmosphere as melancholy as the cold side of the moon, and the song ends appropriately with a bleak, softly synthesized, purgatorial outro that pulls listeners into Li’s solace.
In the song “Jerome,” Li seems to have finally caught the lover she tenaciously followed in “Rivers.” The song is ruthless and threatening, a declaration of her belief that “You’re mine again / swear you’ll never leave me.” Li is almost frightening as she belts lyrics such as, “I know you’re mine / For you are not leaving,” and “I hear you crying / I feel you whining.”
The track “Made You Move” is a slow, low organ melody that frosts the end of the album on a hopeful note. With the lyrics “You made me change / you made me move,” it seems Lykke Li has finally come to terms with her sorrow, establishing herself — and this album — as an enchanting amalgam of something both mysterious and remarkable. As Li sings it herself, “I’m just a ray of light.”