Back in 2010, I heard a stunning, intense female voice singing a beautiful song called “Paris Blue”.
I later found out that the voice belonged to Swedish born Lykke Li. I’ve maintained a keen interest in her music ever since that moment, and so was extremely happy when she announced her third album “I Never Learn” was to be released this May, and that the release would coincide with a tour. I immediately pre-ordered the album, and of course ordered a ticket to see her at Village Underground in London. I’ve waited four years to have the opportunity to see her, and the pre-gig excitement is currently building – five sleeps to go!
While I wait to see Miss Svennson in the flesh, I am now able to listen to the new album in its entirety since the LP landed on my doorstep yesterday.
I love listening to new music. From the moment I press play on Soundcloud, or load the CD, it is a truly wondrous experience that can never be recaptured, so I like to savour it. This moment is always heightened when it’s an LP, I think. Breaking that cellophane and viewing the hidden secrets inside is a momentous occasion.
Lykke Li does not disappoint – one of the things I love about her is the apparent simplicity surrounding her. The cover photograph is a black and white of her facing the camera shrouded in a black veil. The inserts are basic, even down to the sticker on the vinyl which simply says “SONGS”. Nothing else is required – it is all about the music. This is somehow an incredibly emotional moment. Music has got me through so many situations, good and bad, and sometimes people forget about it amongst all the marketing and media. All I want to do is listen to the notes played and the words uttered.
Onto the album itself, now.
The opening song, the title track, is rich, warm and enticing. The harmonies, strings and guitar meld together so beautifully. I adore the instrumentals and the choir like vocals. The intention of this song is seemingly clear – it won’t let you go, but then suddenly, without warning, it does just that, leaving one lost and confused, and ever so slightly disappointed – maybe, just maybe, that’s how Lykke Li was feeling when she wrote this, and she wants us to understand.
Next up is the first single from the album, “No Rest for the Wicked”. Here, Lykke Li is singing about letting herself down, trusting again and having her heart broken. It’s enormously catchy, and you’ll be humming it to yourself for weeks. It’s also an insight into the more pop side of Lykke Li, and despite the fact I’m not much of a pop fan, I really do like this a lot.
Moving on, via the swelling waves of sound within “Just Like a Dream”, the thought provoking sound effects of “Silver Line” and the building vocal melody of “Gunshot”, we arrive at a song that grasps me by the heart and steals my tears, “Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone”. I can tell this song is highly emotive, and in places difficult for Lykke Li to sing – her voice catches, and because there’s nowhere to hide amongst the gentle guitar and slight reverb, the listener cannot fail to notice her pain. This is one of the best songs on the album, for me.
This is a rather ironic album, as the last three songs demonstrate. “Never Gonna Love Again” tells us that Lykke Li will never again let herself go to anyone, that she’ll protect herself and not let anyone hurt her. She goes on to say in “Heart of Steel” that she doesn’t want to be alone forever, and pleads with herself to allow love in. In the final song, “Sleeping Alone”, she contradicts herself by telling us “We’ll meet again…” – this isn’t a criticism, it’s merely an observation that she is human, and that she knows she will at some point take that risk again, and that she has hope for a future where love exists. Don’t we all have all of these thoughts at some point in our lives? I know I have…
From start to finish, “I Never Learn” displays Lykke Li’s inimitable style – she gives us nine outstanding, beautifully put together, imaginatively created, heartfelt, rousing, heartbreaking, wonderful songs. I am impressed, and am now looking forward to gig night even more that I was pre-listen! I truly believe you’ll love it, too.
Buy “I Never Learn” here.
Lykke Li on Twitter.