There are parallels between Lykke Li’s and Yeasayer‘s first and second albums. Both split their audience into two camps: one camp hails the existence of the year’s best pop record, while the other squirms slightly, keeps their head down and quietly admits that they just don’t get it.
Both sophomore albums are made up of energetic, instant pop songs, with atleast one certified festival anthem (Lykke Li’s being I Follow Rivers,Yeasayer’s being O.N.E) and most importantly, both promote a slightlymystifying sub-plot that alienates an awful lot of listeners:Yeasayer’s was a difficult-to-grasp concept about the technologygeneration and Lykke Li’s is a story of defeat after a flourishingaffair. Each leads the listener into unnecessary territory; lookingat Wounded Rhymes like it’s a dramatic break-up record distracts usfrom the sheer might of some of the songs and the genuine sense ofoptimism that works as an undercurrent.
Get Some, for instance, throws us into the middle ofthat affair. Instead of overwhelming us with obnoxiously emotionalcontent, it initiates a sense of fun that much of the record lacks. Weneed not even look at it in the context of Lykke Li’s experiences.Instead, we can immerse ourselves in the bold, pounded drums, theshrill, dry guitars; satisfied at just how well it works as an albumcentrepiece.
The dull, grey tones of the album’s art and the song titles ontheir own suggest much of Wounded Rhymes follows a different route.Perhaps that’s why Get Some works so well; planted right in the middleof the album, totally different from everything that surrounds it. Outof all the weighty, impassioned efforts, closer Silent My Song, withits sluggish, heavy-footed pace, works best. You feel a great sense ofrelief as it reaches is supple, peaceful climax; such is the ferocityof what precedes it. That’s not to say that you don’t find yourselfwanting to go back to Wounded Rhymes immediately after: it’s athoroughly addictive record, one perfect in its length, flow andstructure. The exchange between delicate minimalism (I Know Places andthe piercing, affecting Unrequited Love) and gung-ho, dense pop(Jerome and the confident opener Youth Know No Pain) is executedbrilliantly.
That said, Wounded Rhymes remains a challenging listen – not yourconventional pop record. Lykke Li continues to be an oddball, afascinating character. Earnest and upfront, at timesshe leaves you feeling intimidated. At othertimes, the album works magnificently; more so than anything on herbreakthrough debut.