Swedish singer Lykke Li has the appeal of a high school foreign exchange student. That one whose effortless style and sexy accent lay waste to the efforts of the school's native hot girls. You want to like her, maybe even love her. But sometimes she says things that are just mind-numbingly inane. And then you wonder how much she can actually get away with.
There are a lot of good things about Li's sophomore album, Wounded Rhymes. By leaving much of the jazzy, minimalist stuff behind, Li sounds more energetic and sincere--less concerned with appearing as cutesy or alluring as she did on her first album. Her vocals sometimes even take on a Lady Gaga-like timbre as she goes for a much more powerful, denser sound. The first track, "Youth Knows No Pain," sounds like an amped up, tribal interpretation of The Munsters' surf-rocky theme song. And Li takes a cue from Fleet Foxes on tracks like "Unrequited Love" by layering on the warm, folksy harmonies--something we haven't heard her do before.
But then there's a song like "Get Some" where Li sings on the chorus, "Like a shotgun needs an outcome/I'm your prostitute/You gonna get some." Li trots the overt, cheesy analogies out again on "Sadness is a Blessing": "Sadness is a blessing/Sadness is a curse/Sadness is my boyfriend/Oh, sadness, I'm your girl." It's a shame, because some of the album's terrible lyrics happen to be wrapped in very listenable musical packaging. Wounded, wounded rhymes indeed.