Where To Start With... Lykke Li
Born in the southernmost Swedish county of Skåne to a photographer mother and a father known locally as the guitarist in Swedish punk/reggae band Dag Vag, singer-songwriter Lykke Li first emerged on the scene in 2007 with her debut EP Little Bit, immediately being marked out by critics as one to watch.
Her debut album Youth Novels was released the following year, first in January 2008 in the Nordic regions, then across Europe that June and finally in the U.S. in August. By then, songs such as 'I'm Good, I'm Gone' were picking up airplay all over Europe and despite being lumped in with many of the Swedish 'pop' artists emerging from her homeland, it soon became clear that Lykke Li's music had a darker edge than many of her contemporaries.
Over the course of of her second and third albums – 2011's Wounded Rhymes and 2014's I Never Learn – Lykke Li's sound gradually evolved, journeying through provocative sass of songs like 'Get Some' to the heartbreak-drenched 'Love Me Like I'm Not Made Of Stone'. Ahead of the release of her third album, the singer said that she saw I Never Learn as the closing chapter in a trilogy of albums, and in 2015 she announced her “temporary retirement” on Instagram.
In the four years that have elapsed since her third album's release, Li has branched out into acting, making appearances in Swedish crime drama Tommy and Terrence Malick's Song to Song alongside Ryan Gosling, as well as having her first child with her partner Jeff Bhasker, best-known to most as the Grammy-winning producer behind such chart-busting albums as Mark Ronson's Uptown Special and Kanye West's 808s and Heartbreak, among countless others.
It's with Bhasker's help that Lykke Li has created her fourth album So Sad So Sexy, first announced in April and arriving in stores this week, which sees the singer venturing into very different sonic territory to her first three albums. While songs such as 'Utopia' feel more familiar, elsewhere So Sad So Sexy sees Li exploring a much more synth-heavy soundscape, incorporating stuttering trap beats on the uplifting 'Deep End' and the R&B-influenced 'Sex Money Feelings Die'.
As well as Bhasker, other contributors to the new album include ex-Vampire Weekend man Rostam Batmanglij, who has produced and co-written the album's opening salvo 'Hard Rain', and Sonny 'Skrillex' Moore, who adds his unique touch on 'Two Nights', a track which also features the vocal talents of rapper Aminé.
You can find the video for 'Deep End' below, beneath that we've picked out five key tracks from her career so far for those unfamiliar with her back catalogue...
'I'm Good, I'm Gone'
One of the standout tracks on her 2008 debut Youth Novels, 'I'm Good, I'm Gone' is propelled by a thudding piano riff and layers of the dreamy, reverb-drenched vocals that became Lykke Li's trademark in her early years.
An almost ubiquitous presence on the airwaves on its release in 2011, 'this cut from Lykke Li's sophomore album Wounded Rhymes is still probably one of the singer's best-known tracks; shuffling rhythms, sassy lyrics and a killer hook.
'I Follow Rivers'
Another of the standout moments on Wounded Rhymes, 'I Follow Rivers' was already a huge hit across Europe before The Magician got hold of it and turned it into a dancefloor-filling club anthem, but the original is still arguably the best version and remains a staple of her live set.
One of the singles from her most recent album, 2014's I Never Learn, 'Gunshot' is Lykke Li at her most anthemic, starting out as a sparse, starkly minimalist ballad before ballooning into a huge showstopper of a chorus.
'No Rest For The Wicked'
Our final pick is another cut from I Never Learn, 'No Rest For The Wicked' manages to be one of the most tender moments on Lykke Li's third album as well as one of its most powerful, moving from a gentle, piano-led verse into a towering wall-of-sound hook.
So Sad So Sexy is available in hmv stores now - you can also find it here in our online store...