Lykke Li – ‘I Never Learn’

Lykke Li - 'I Never Learn'


The Swedish singer is still getting her heart broken

So, where were we at with Lykke Li? The Swede’s second album, 2011’s ‘Wounded Rhymes’, was assembled under an angry cloud of heartbreak. Sure, it was troubled, but it was defiant (‘Get Some’) and dramatic (‘Sadness Is A Blessing’). Most of all it was pain-stricken (‘Unrequited Love’). Stylistically and lyrically, she’d consciously uncoupled from the signature coochy-coo vocals, puppy-eyed cuteness and electronic quirks of her debut ‘Youth Novels’ – and grown.

Unsurprisingly for an album called ‘I Never Learn’, this third album sees Lykke revisiting some of the themes covered on ‘Wounded Rhymes’. Painfully for her, again she finds herself emerging from a failed relationship.

Yet the bruising on ‘I Never Learn’ seems more severe. While the sadness was spun between tribal drums and feisty strings last time out, this is much more raw. On occasions it’s just Lykke’s reverb-cloaked vocals accompanied by an acoustic guitar – like on beautifully downbeat opener ‘Never Knew’ and the forlorn ‘Love Me Like I’m Not Made Of Stone’.

There’s still the odd hook or chorus – the shuffling melody of ‘No Rest For The Wicked’ and the big piano-power-pop of ‘Gunshot’ are the closest you’ll get to ‘I Follow Rivers’ here. But the rest is consistently tearful.

And Lykke sure is tough on herself – the trio of ‘Never Gonna Love Again’, ‘Heart Of Steel’ and ‘Sleeping Alone’ give you a better idea of where 28-year-old is psychologically right now. Each of those is intimate, introverted and tremendously sad. Chinks of hope are hard to come by.

She’s spoken in the past about struggling with the nomadic experience of touring – unfortunately there isn’t going to be much joy in evoking the ghosts of these songs every night. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe this is an album Lykke Li had, instead of wanted, to make. ‘I Never Learn’ is an album about love, but not a record to love.

Greg Cochrane


Director: Lykke Li, Bjorn Yttling, Greg Kurstin
Record label: LL Recordings/Atlantic
Release date: 05 May, 2014