After the shyness and fragility of her dazzling 2008 debut 'Youth Novels', Stockholm native and indie-popstrel Lykke Li has matured to reveal a more brazen, robust and ultimately more purposeful artist in her prime. Relying even more on pounding primal rhythms and girlish harmonies, it's those sharp pop hooks that make 'Wounded Rhymes' a thoroughly worthy follow up.
Though the young Swede may not have the strongest voice on the block, its wispy notes occasionally heard to falter, there's something irresistibly childlike about it. And even though she sounds sturdier and more confident here than ever, there's still hints of the timidity and vulnerability that endeared Lykke Li to listeners on her first album. So while you occasionally miss the delicate flower whose hips once lied on 'Dance Dance Dance', one can still catch flecks of her in the soft, hushed tones of 'Love Out of Lust' or sparse arrangement and unsettling harmonies of 'I Know Places'. It's strange though; the incessant sorrow in Lykke Li's lyrics can become tiresome, even though the sadness rarely spills over into the melodies themselves, yet when it does, it creates some of the album's finest moments.
Always a marked influence, here Lykke Li channels 1960s girl groups more patently than ever with that classic drum beat on 'Sadness Is A Blessing' or the chorus of shoo-wops on 'Unrequited Love', not to mention the effect of that reverb-heavy production style on those Ronettes-style backing vocals. The man behind said production is Bjorn Yttling, best known for his part in Peter, Bjorn and John, returning after his work on 'Youth Novels' to co-write all eleven tracks on this album. Drawing so much on the past, 'Wounded Rhymes' may be a less unique offering than its predecessor, but its electrifying atmospheres, danceable beats and emotional potency make it equally special.