“Wounded Rhymes” is Swedish vocalist’s Lykke Li’s second album, and unlike her raw, underdeveloped first album, it’s heavy on instrumentation, thumping back beats and angst.
On “Wounded Rhymes,” 24-year-old Li has grown up since her 2008 debut, “Youth Novels,” and her sampling of different sounds and straightforward, icy lyrics make that clear. The tracks range in style from slow ‘60s-style ballads to more modern, dense psychedelic and electronic beats.
Li’s most danceable tracks, “Get Some,” “Rich Kid Blues” and “Youth Knows No Pain,” have a garage-band sound with heavy beats. “Youth Knows No Pain” is a fun youth anthem and is an appropriate opening track. By track five, Li gets racy in the song “Get Some,” singing, “Like the shotgun need an outcome/ I’m your prostitute, you ‘gon get some.” Coming from the waifish blonde, the words sound insincere. The infectious melody saves the song from being over the top, however.
Where Li succeeds on the album is her love-torn tracks. Her airy voice is better suited to sweet-sounding ballads than angry rock. In “Sadness is a Blessing,” whose lyrics inspired the album’s title, Li makes a heartfelt cry of resignation, singing, “Sadness is a blessing/ sadness is a pearl/ sadness is my boyfriend.” In “Love Out of Lust,” Li incorporates echoes, whistling and a gentle pulse to achieve a spacey detachment that will lull the listener. The somber “Unrequited Love” sounds as though it should be playing from a record player. Its simple vocal harmonies, repetitive guitar chords and “shoo-wop-shoo-wa”s hearken back to the ‘60s and circle skirts, but somehow Li keeps the song fresh.
With the success Li found from her first album, she can expect even more from her second, as her “Wounded Rhymes” turned out to be more mature and musically diverse than her “Youth Novels.”