Thursday, June 19, 2008

Youth Novels - Lykke Li

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As the old joke never went, you don't have to be Scandinavian to musically conquer the UK, but it helps. Hence Swedish 22-year-old Lykke Li and her debut album Youth Novels.

Much of the anticipation for this album is down to recent single Little Bit. Listening to it it was almost a "Young Folks with a bit more of a dancey vibe" (not surprising considering it bears the influence of co-producer Bjorn Yttling, one third of Peter Bjorn and John) but I couldn't quite make my mind up whether it was charming and ever so slightly adorable or whether or not it was highly irritating. On balance, it just about worked it's way into the former category. The question, to my mind at least, was whether or not an entire album could follow suit.

Alarmingly, I only got two tracks in, with Dance, Dance, Dance to get worried that the album was going to fall firmly into the "irritating" camp. With it's similar sensibilities to Little Bit, but zero of that song's charm, it's not something I can enjoy listening to. Quite frankly, I couldn't find the skip button fast enough.

But thankfully, there is more to Lykke Li than this would suggest. I'm Good I'm Gone does sound, ahem, a little bit like something Feist would do, but there's no denying it's a catchy tune; Tonight is a melancholic and sparse track that underscores her strengths. Breaking It Up's vocal chorus makes it stand out and she saves the best for last with Window Blues. The spooky backing and simple two-note piano riff combine to make an excellent end track (and as you know, I can never resist a girl speaking/singing in French).

There's enough of a variety of good tracks to make this very much a worthwhile listen; sadly there's also just enough that's irritating and cloying. Still, first time around, you can't expect everything to hit the mark.

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