Considering the explanation of this, Lykke Li’s third album, being the final part of a trilogy that depicts the turbulent emotions and experiences of a woman in her 20s overcoming heartbreak, as ‘I Never Learn’ begins to expose its honesty, one might feel we’re peeking guiltily into the artist’s diary, where naked truths are passionate and purgative.
But, rest assured, this is no smug, grab-a-box-of-Maltesers, Bridget Jones weep-a-thon.
As an insight into the mind of 28-year-old Swede born Li Lykke Timotej Svensson Zachrisson, ‘I Never Learn’ is tender and compelling. Introduced by the title track, itself an admission of imperfection, the album ushers us in gently, as Li’s haunting vocals glide into glorious strings.
Therein, we’re swathed in candour. Latest single ‘No Rest For The Wicked’ is raw in its revelations: “I let my true love die,” she sings, “I had his heart but I broke it every time.”
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‘Love Me Like I’m Not Made Of Stone’
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The lyrics are comforted, however, by the warm blanket of Phil Spector-like production, created by Peter Björn And John’s Björn Yttling, Greg Kurstin (Ellie Goulding, Lily Allen), and Li herself. Shimmering echoes and lingering strains keep things sparse but not desolate, unguarded yet inviting.
The juxtaposition of abandoned hope in ‘Gunshot’ (“I’ll never get you back”) and absolute grief in ‘Love Me Like I’m Not Made Of Stone’ (video above), with each of their infective choruses, really begins to suggest empowerment: redemption through confession. As if to confirm this intervention, a choir offers reassuring support in the emancipating penultimate track, ‘Heart Of Steel’.
Though her personal tragedy has been transformed into an affecting record of real beauty, one truly hopes Li’s next chapter isn’t quite so agonising.
Words: Simon Harper
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Stream ‘I Never Learn’ in full, below, courtesy of Clash’s friends at Deezer.
Listen to more music by Lykke Li on Deezer, here.
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Homepage photo: Daniel Jackson