Lykke Li – ‘EYEYE’ review: intimate, lo-fi bedroom pop for lovers of sad sounds

The Scandi pioneer strips things back for her moody and cinematic fifth album, an evocative mood piece that conjures a kaleidoscopic revery

Along with Robyn, Lykke Li was the Scandi architect of masterful sad-pop for the 21st Century. While the former tended to specialise in bops and bangers, this fellow Swede leaned more towards devastating widescreen melancholia. Until her last record, that is. On 2018’s knowingly titled ‘So Sad, So Sexy’, Lykke brought a little more colour, edge and – whisper it – fun to proceedings with stomps of pop, trap and R&B. Along with the sweet disco jam of her 2019 Mark Ronson collab ‘Late Night Feelings’, her departure was a triumph – but left a lot of fans hungry for her gloomier dabblings of old.

Well, good news for lovers of sad sounds: Lykke Li is back on downtempo vibes. Not only that, but she’s working again with Björn Yttling – the Peter Bjorn And John member who previously leant his Scandi-pop Midas touch to her first three albums. That’s not to say it’s a pastiche of former miseries, though. This time, it’s lo-fi and out there.

Stepping away from the dancefloor, Lykke recorded ‘EYEYE’ in her bedroom with no digital instruments or fancy gadgets. This was, in her own words, an “attempt to compress a lifetime of romantic obsession and female fantasy into a hyper-sensory landscape” while capturing “the intimacy of listening to a voice memo on a macro dose of LSD”.

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From opener ‘NO HOTEL’, the sense of woozy longing is immediately intoxicating. “Heart beat, half-dead, I carry blue / With every step, I’m not over you”, she sings, marrying her trademark resigned heartache with a spectral minimalism. ‘YOU DON’T GO’ almost wanders into shoegaze territory, before ‘HIGHWAY TO YOUR HEART’ takes a sparse Americana foundation and peppers it with some delicate synth-pop touches to illustrate that futility of trying to get out of your own head: “Get high, but it won’t last – I’m still alone”. The hypnotic psych-pop of ‘HAPPY HURTS’ floats skywards, while ‘CAROUSEL’ fittingly twirls like a fairground ride.

A few of her poppier hooks might have helped to punch through the haze here, but this album is much more of an art-pop mood piece than a home for singles. After living with it for a while, you’ll come to appreciate ‘EYEYE’ as a record that breathes, sighs and will leave you lost in the same dazed revery that these tracks were born from.

Details

Release date: May 20

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Record label: PIAS

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