Lykke Li, the ethereal songstress from Sweden, is releasing her new album I Never Learn next Tuesday, May 5th. Lucky for us, NPR has released the album a week early on their First Listen. After 2011’s Wounded Rhymes, Lykke went through alot of personal stuff, such as a breakup, which is prime material for songs, and using that pain, she has come back strong with a 9-song, 33-minute LP ready to floor anyone who was still unsure of her power as a singer-songwriter.
Lykke jumps straight into this album with the title track, “I Never Learn”, with a strong acoustic guitar line and haunting strings. She has picked up the story of the star-crossed lovers that first meet in Lykke’s debut LP Youth Novels, and go through troubles in Wounded Rhymes. This song finds them at the end of their relationship, explained even more in the first single from the album and second track, “No Rest For The Wicked”
The drum-driven melody accompanies Li admitting that she has treated the man in her life wrong and that the relationship must end. The use of her own voice as back-up lends an almost hollow sound to her voice.
The third song, “Just Like A Dream” is a musical version of a final stand, trying to win someone over to come back and stay. The tempo is kept upbeat with piano and drums, and swells at each chorus adding in many background vocal tracks. Lykke begs for her man to stay, even if it is for only one night and maybe work things out, but the song ends without any resolution in sight.
There is very heavy use of percussion in the following song “Silverline”, where Lykke points out how much she has done for her man and how she has supported him. It picks up the overall tempo to get ready for the next song, the second single “Gunshot”.
This song is reminiscent of past singles, with the depth of the instruments and the ease that Lykke belts out the notes in the chorus. The woman has changed views of the relationship and has noticed how horrible he has been to her, but also how much she has really loved him.
The acoustic side of Lykke jumps to the forefront with “Love Me Like I’m Not Made Of Stone”, sounding like it was recorded in the middle of the night or the beginning hours of the morning. With an acoustic guitar and scratchy filters on her microphone, Li pleads for the man to try his best to take care of her.
Dawn of a new day has broken and with that a new song; “Never Gonna Love Again” sees the mood pick up and be more listener friendly that the past few songs. Her voice is definitely stronger and Lykke has control over the notes she is singing. She has realized that loving is not for her and vowed a promise to never love again (didn’t see that coming, eh?)
Lykke finishes the album with two songs; the rock song “Heart of Steel”, guaranteeing that this will never happen again, and a more softer ballad, “Sleeping Alone”. There is a choir used behind “Heart of Steel” with a lot of percussion, where “Sleeping Alone”, with the piano and drums, have a smokey jazz club feel to it.
Lykke Li has made another indie gem with I Never Learn, and fans will love it for many years to come. As Lykke repeats at the very end of the album “We’ll meet again….” and hopefully it won’t be too long until her next offering.