Lykke's solid debut album lives up to her promising groundwork.
Jon Lusk 2008-06-06
Having wanted to release album before her 20th birthday, this Swedish singer/songwriter managed to realise her ambitions shortly afterwards, at the tender age of 22. Lykke Li Zachrisson may have already come to your attention through MySpace or an entrancing appearance on Jools Holland’s Later... TV show earlier this year, and this solid debut album lives up to the promising groundwork.
Lykke Li sings her catchy pop confections in a breathy, girlish voice that falls somewhere between her angst-filled compatriot Stina Nordenstam on effective anti-depressants and the candy-flavoured bleat of Altered Images' Clare Grogan.
Her youthful optimism and vulnerability are offset by mentor, producer and co-writer Björn Yttling’s sparse, minimalist arrangements of piano, keyboard drones, rippling acoustic guitar, inventive percussion and electronica. The occasional use of atmospheric trumpet and sax also suggests the influence of Norwegian nu jazzers like Nils Petter Molvaer.
If there’s a potentially for a major hit on the album, it has to be the metronomic, infectiously hummable single Little Bit – a great new example of the emotional conflict which 10cc and Smokey Robinson lyrically documented so well.
Although it’s more of a grandiose ballad, the pulsing, hypnotic Tonight has an equally catchy chorus. And while Everybody But Me convincingly plumbs the depths of adolescent insecurity, the deadpan, robotic delivery on Complaint Department shows Lykke has a sense of humour, as well as a love of vintage electro, something that's also apparent on Breaking It Up.
OK, so I'm Good, I'm Gone appears to borrow a substantially from Allen Toussaint's Working In A Coalmine, and some might find the little-girl-lost vocal mannerisms and melodrama of Time Flies a little overdone. But overall, the standard of song writing is high, the sequencing instills a sense of emotional narrative, and Yttling’s imaginatively varied settings furnish a stylish and engaging showcase for this novel youth.