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Music Lykke Li

Published on June 29th, 2018 | by voxx

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Lykke Li – So Sad So Sexy

The Swedish singer-songwriter makes current crazes her own…

The melodramatic title of Lykke Li’s latest LP is undeniably accurate: this is a bruised and beautiful break-up album that shows off the low-key Swede’s gift for poignant pop melodies. But at the same time, So Sad So Sexy refreshes her indie electro sound (as perfected on 2011 hit ‘I Follow Rivers’) with a more sensual and R&B-influenced edge.

Li has remained pretty enigmatic since she emerged a decade ago with her stunning debut album Youth Novels. “I just don’t believe in telling someone “You’re straight, you’re gay,” she said in a 2008 interview, “You are whatever you are. I’m a child of the ‘80s. I have so many friends that are bi; I believe people can be that if the environment is right. I’m not saying if I am or not, I don’t bother to narrow it down. You fall in love with people.”

But while Li guards aspects of her private life in interviews, her songwriting is incredibly emotionally open. The Lana Del Rey-style bop ‘Sex Money Feelings Die’ features the strikingly stark lyric: “I’m so f**ked up, all I want is you”. The title track acknowledges, rightly or wrongly, that sleeping with someone you’re about to split up with can be super-hot. ‘Last Piece’ is a raw open wound of a tune on which Li begs: “Let me keep the last piece of my heart, before you tear it all apart.” And most affecting is ‘Two Nights’, which feels like a desperate successor to George Michael’s ‘Spinning the Wheel’. “I’ve been staring at a blank phone.” Li sings despondently. “You never came home.”

Though she creates a consistently moody and subdued vibe, So Sad So Sexy never becomes too downbeat. The hooky ‘Jaguars in the Air’ recalls Gwen Stefani’s solo hits; ‘Deep End’ continues Li’s fascination with water as she sings lustfully: “Your kiss is salty chlorine.” She even brands herself a “bad woman” on the penultimate track before ending the album on a surprisingly positive note with ‘Utopia’, on which she tells a prospective partner: “We could shine brighter than glitter.”

That ending kind of makes you wonder whether So Sad So Sexy is really an outright break-up album after all. Either way, it’s a stylish and beguiling affair that’s ideal for late-night listening – whether you’re alone or with someone who’ll also appreciate its supremely seductive gloom.

- By Jake White


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