Lykke Li might not be quite as idiosyncratic as fellow Scandinavian songstresses Bjork or Hanne Hukkelberg, but she sure know how to write brave, brilliant, and strikingly otherworldly music. Her new album Wounded Rhymes, the follow up to 2008's Youth Novels, was conceived, written and recorded in the desert hills of Los Angeles on what Li has referred to as a retreat, to escape the "cold and dark" winter of her native Sweden.
Despite the setting though she admits it is an album of dark themes, even "psychotic" at times when dealing with the break up of a recent relationship. Much like Youth Novels it is heartbreak and despair that seem to fuel this record, yet Li manages to turn those bleak emotions into the most beautiful compositions.
Youth Knows No Pain sets an a high benchmark for this record, all thumping percussion and garage-rock organs, it's a powerhouse opening track which demonstrates a bolder sophomore effort. Then I Follow Rivers continues built around a gloriously poppy, upbeat chorus, which gives way to a dreamy drone.
First single Get Some is one of the darkest songs on the album, and one of the gutsiest, as Li repeats over more garage rock style pounding drums "I'm your prostitute, you're gon' get some". While on Rich Kids Blues Li is in typically defiant mood, insisting "I've got the rich kids blues / And it's got nothing to do with you".
It's these feistier moments that make Wounded Rhymes great, not that there's anything (at all) wrong with tracks like Sadness Is A Blessing, or Unrequited Love, but the album needs the edgier energy that they provide.
They lift Lykke Li's music from the run-of-the-mill indie singer-songwriter efforts that have flooded the market recently, to something more individualistic, and genuinely exciting.
Final Score: 87%