While this album’s relentlessly downbeat nature may put some people off, the Swede’s restless willingness to experiment is to be admired
For her fifth album, Lykke Li decided to take a somewhat dogmatic approach to recording. For EyEye, there was to be no click tracks, no digital instruments to be used, and all vocals should be recorded on a handheld drum mic. At first glance, it almost sounds like a musical version of fellow Scandinavian Lars Von Trier’s Dogme 95 manifesto.
Fans need not worry though, for EyEye sounds, more or less, like you’d expect a Lyyke Li album to sound. She did, after all, entitle her last record So Sad So Sexy, and the follow up is more of that deliciously Scandinavian speciality of minimalist heartbroken anthems that you can dance to (or, at least, sway around mournfully to).
Despite the style of recording, the production qualities don’t sound particularly lo-fi. Her vocals sound even more intimate than ever on opening track No Hotel, and the lush synths that decorate Highway To Your Heart feel like you could sink into them.
But anyone looking for any big pop crossover hits, like I Follow Rivers or Little Bit, could be disappointed. EyEye feels more like a mood piece than anything else, especially when combined with the accompanying ‘visual album’, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing when you can wallow luxuriously to a song like Happy Hurts. It also provokes the intriguing thought that Li could well turn her hand to scoring a film at some point in the future.
Carousel is so downbeat it’s almost hypnotic, a huge swathe of synths washing over the listener, while Li mournfully sings “I’m under your spell… carousel” before a beautiful instrumental coda brings the song to an end. That leads into 5G, thankfully not a discussion about mobile phone conspiracies, but another lovelorn ballad shrouded in keyboard riffs.
Over is introduced with clanking Tom Waits style percussion, before it unfolds into a defiant break-up song, with a chorus of “I don’t need you, I don’t want to,” while Highway To Your Heart is probably the standout track, another beautifully mournful song about lost love, full of twinkling synths and vocal harmonies.
At just eight tracks long, EyEye never outstays its welcome, although its relentlessly downbeat nature may put some people off. While the absence of a big pop banger is a shame – Li is so good at them – her restless nature and willingness to experiment is to be admired. Turn up loud, watch the visual album simultaneously, and treat your senses.