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Album review: Lykke Li's 'Wounded Rhymes'

February 28, 2011 |  5:33 pm

Lykkeli There are femme fatales, and then there’s the character the Swedish singer Lykke Li is playing in her demented Spector-pop single “Get Some.” “Like a shotgun needs an outcome, I’m your prostitute — you’re gonna get some,” she warns in a glassy, deadpan coo.

Rarely has a come-on come packed with so much menace. But Li’s beguiling second album “Wounded Rhymes” is full of charged contradictions. She’s a mediocre singer with a very interesting voice, a fan of classic handmade pop and the ways laptops can serrate it, and a writer obsessed with sex and with sexing up obsession.

On the strength of her excellently minimalist early single “Little Bit,” Li was often wrongly tagged as an electronic artist. “Wounded Rhymes” is made of shards of machines, yet is structured like R&B and pre-Beatles pop. Marianne Faithfull and Nancy Sinatra are her most ready vocal comparisons, but the sounds are otherworldly. “I Follow Rivers” is built off an in vogue distorted kalimba and detached vocal harmonies, while “Rich Kid Blues” gets its eeriness from a horror-show synthesizer.

When the doom and gloom part, like on “Love Out of Lust,” she conjures the ghosts of a hundred “–ettes” bands, and the effect is heavenly.

--August Brown

Lykke Li
“Wounded Rhymes”
Atlantic Records
Three and a half stars