Pop & Rock 2011: 30 Best Albums
Swedish indie pop singer Lykke Li charmed the world with 2008 debut Youth Novels, a collection of songs that were sweet, demure, but by no means naïve. Three years later, Li has really found herself with Wounded Rhymes. A diary of jaded youth, female sexual empowerment and the harsh realities of young love and heartbreak, the songs pulsate with passionate tribal beats and ominous synthetic sounds. In sexually-charged single "Get Some" she sings, "I'm your prostitute, you gonna get some," but the song is by no means an ode to man-pleasing: it's all about harnessing and embracing the power of her feminine sexuality. The album's points of confidence and strength are counterweighted by pure articulations of vulnerability; from the cataclysmic crescendos of tortured love letter "Jerome" to the anguished crooning and throbbing war horns of "Silent My Song," Li achieves a perfect manifestation of devastating heartbreak. Beyond the album's dark instrumentation and emotional careening, Wounded Rhymes also proves a stylistic evolution for Li in the brazen display of her vocal capabilities, which, it is now clear, were well-restrained for her debut. The melodrama of these songs demand powerful vocal execution, and she does not fall short in this respect. And melodramatic this album most certainly is, but all in good faith: not once does Li take her impassioned expression further than is warranted by insatiable desire and ravaging heartbreak.
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