Lykke Li is the stage name (one based on a derivative of her birth name) of Swedish singer/songwriter Li Lykke Timotej Zachrisson. She released her critically acclaimed debut album, “Youth novels”, at 22 years of age, and followed it up with “Wounded rhymes” three years later, an album most have agreed was an improvement on the debut. I really liked both of her first two albums, loving both the quirky and the macabre feel of the tunes, music that traverses a taut tightrope, just this side of pop. With each successive album afterwards, however, it sounds to me like she has fallen victim to the lure of the mighty pop dollar and I’ve liked each of them less to a greater degree.
Her sophomore release, though, was a delight. She went to California to record it, admitting, herself, that she wanted to escape the dreariness of Stockholm winters and find some sunshine. Also, there were journeys to the desert in search of the ghostly channels of her heroes in Jim Morrison and Joni Mitchell. It’s not at all Haight Ashbury or Laurel Canyon, though, still very much keeping to the blueprint of the debut, a percussive and atmospheric canvas for her to paint her childlike, haunting vocals upon.
“Love out of lust” was actually not one of the three singles released off the album but I cannot understand for the life of me why it wasn’t. It’s so freaking beautiful and it’s damned catchy. Lykke Li is pleading her case for love while the world shimmers around her, tribal drummers beating upon large bass toms and gigantic brass gongs and pixies whisper and flit, posing as synthesizers and samples. It is a song for slow dancing in the ephemera.
“We will live longer than I will
We will be better than I was
We can cross rivers with our will
We can do better than I can
So dance while you can
Dance ’cause you must.”
Indeed. Dance because you must.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2011 list, click here.