Lykke Li, Grimes | Metro | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Lykke Li, Grimes Recommended All Ages Early Warnings (Music) Sold Out (Music) Soundboard

When: Mon., May 23, 8 p.m. 2011

As much as I loved Lykke Li's 2008 debut album, Youth Novels, over time the quirky Swedish singer's occasionally wispy vocals and childlike hooks started nagging at me like burrs. The fantastic new Wounded Rhymes (LL/Atlantic) is much poppier, but it's also bigger and bolder—working again with producer Bjorn Yttling of Peter Bjorn & John, she tries the Phil Spector wall-of-sound approach, albeit with much sparser instrumentation. Heavy quasi-tribal drums ring with miles of reverb, and old-school girl-group harmonies (from Zhala Rifat and Wildbirds & Peacedrums vocalist Mariam Wallentin) shadow Li's sweet cry. Muffled organ chords, simple guitar patterns, and floor-rumbling bass tones fill out the sonic landscape, and while about half the tunes wed their booming beats to harmonically minimalist melodies where there's hardly a chord change, the others borrow transparently from Brill Building pop, doo-wop, and 50s dream pop. The echo that swaddles everything mutes the ebullience of Li's frothy melodies, an appropriate effect considering the content of her lyrics, written in solitude in Los Angeles after a painful breakup. The songs sting, whether she's rhapsodically embracing heartbreak ("Sadness is a blessing / Sadness is a pearl / Sadness is my boyfriend") or nonchalantly exerting her power. Wounded Rhymes is both more accessible and more mature, and though the music is still giddy, it hits much harder than before. —Peter Margasak

Price: Sold out

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