Friday 15 June 2018

Lykke Li - So Sad So Sexy

Lykke Li - So Sad So Sexy

The fourth album from Sweden's Lykke Li sits at the intersection between heartbreak, icy Scandi cool, and rhythmic trap beats. It is, as the title suggests, so sad yet so sexy.

Let's start with the sad. Catastrophic sorrow has always been at the heart of her music, but this album came after the birth of her son and the death of her mother, which has cemented her firmly in adulthood and has clearly impacted the tone of the album. This isn't just a few tears; this is deep-rooted melancholy, self-doubt, despondency, and hopelessness.

Opener Hard Rain immediately sets the apocalyptic tone, celestial harmonies parting the clouds as clarity comes and a relationship crumbles into broken rhythms and deep bass. On Better Alone she repeats "I'm better alone than lonely" with doom-filled finality. The confessional Bad Woman is full of conflict, a woman torn between clinging on and doing the right thing by letting go. The nostalgic Jaguars In The Air is a rare moment of hope, but once the album ends with the wistful Utopia the very notion of positivity is a tainted dream.

Li's vocal follows suit: hushed, fragile and loaded with vulnerability. And her lyrics are simple yet illustrative and cinematic. The title track especially is pure slow motion melancholy that truly embodies the title. Later on Two Nights you get a real sense of a woman sat at home alone, smoke curling around her, paranoia setting in as she whispers "I think you might be with someone else". When rapper Aminé joins in the middle eight it shatters the illusion.

Yet all this sad is tempered with sexy, slick electronics. With Li living in L.A. there's a clear American influence here. Perhaps she's aiming for a more popular sound, but she equally never loses sight of her roots. Deep End is heavily hip-hop inspired, with its clipped beat and "swimming pool" lyric perhaps a nod to Kendrick Lamar, while on Sex Money Feelings Die she covers the usual hip-hop tropes of drinking and drugs amongst the tears. But those beats proliferate throughout, adding a modern sexy twist to the album as a whole. Rarely has tragedy sounded so good.


Gizzle's Choice:
* Deep End
* Two Nights
* So Sad So Sexy

Listen: 'So Sad So Sexy' is out now.