Artist: Lykke Li
Album: Youth Novels
Comments: Lykke Li is a name that I have heard echoing across the indie scene, and based on this Swedes name I assumed her sound would be full of boring string arrangements and weak ambient music (like Final Fantasy, or something dreadful like that). Thankfully I was proven wrong, as Youth Novels is anything but boring.
With the exception of two tracks the album is full of good, well-thought out music. Li ‘s music branches out, not limiting her album to one general concept of sound. Tracks jump from jazzy reggae to joyous sing-a-longs to a smooth 50’s inspired doo-wop tunes. The lyrics are solid; every word seems completely organic, like it was something ripped out from Li’s own personal diary. This gives the delightful feeling that she is singing at you, telling you all of her thoughts. In Youth Novels, (because her life could read like a novel, get it?) no pretentious air can be found; everything presented is real and extremely personal.
The first chapter is the uber-intimate “Melodies and Desires.” The title speaks for itself as breathy synths waft as Li’s small, child-like voice slowly reveals “Love is the harmony, desire is the key, love is the melody, now sing it with me.” It’s a bit strong for a first-tracked song, but still it gets the diary-like ideal of intimacy across.
Which is not to say Youth Novels is full of A-grade sappiness and electronic music. It’s something bigger and brighter than that.
“Dance Dance Dance,” which is a shoulder moving, toe-tapping tune, kicks things up a notch. Li’s precious voice is met with a fuller background sound, thanks to a brassy, playful trumpet, cowbell, and a warm bass string, which keeps a nice pulsating beat. Female background vocals, like something out of an 80’s reggae tune, happily sing in sunny unison “Dance, dance.”
Things develop into razor sharp pop tunes like the piano-and-hand-clap-driven “I’m Good I’m Gone.” Songs don’t get catchier than this. The chorus is the best part of the song, boasting supreme production skills. Everything gracefully builds together, creating a glorious crash of simple instruments and sassy vocal overdubs.
Youth Novels grows more mature as the album progresses. This isn’t necessarily a great thing, as it breeds weak tracks like “This Trumpet In My Head” or in the nonsensical idea of a song that is “Complaint Department.” The song consists of her telling everyone (everyone!) that she is not a complaint department. It would have been better if Li cut out these songs; they muddle the already genre jumbled flow of the album.
Youth Novels is a fantastic gem of sweet music, well-written lyrics, and diary-like intimacy. It’s the perfect album for those who want to get away from the harshness day to day life.
-Erin Mae Szrainkowski
Rating: 8 out of 10
Key Tracks: Dance Dance Dance, I’m Good I’m Gone, Let It Fall
Buy, Steal, Skip: Buy