Lykke Li - Youth Novels

One glance at the inlay artwork, all strange headgear and floaty dresses, and you'll be one step closer to the realisation that Swedish starlet Lykke Li is next in throne to Björk. Youth Novels, her debut album and a curious oddity in the best way, resembles everybody's favourite swan-wearing pixie and her very own Debut in that it brings to us an original voice and sound that still wants to light up the charts. Teaming up with Pete, Björn & John's Björn Yttling, who produced the album in her native Sweden, the youngster's mix of pop melodies and striking instrumentation makes for an arresting addition to the evergrowing ranks of talented females from across the Channel.

Those who have an ear for quirk may already be familiar with singles I'm Good, I'm Gone and Little Bit. The former is a minimal but very clever pop song, based around a simple piano riff, but it's the latter that should have got her much more notice; backed by scattershot beats and requisite 'ooh's, Lykke delivers a vocal so coy yet understated that she gets away with spouting lyrics like 'For you I keep my legs apart/And forget about my tainted heart'. It's one of the sexiest tracks of the year, without needing a Pussycat Doll ho-heavy video to back it up. New single Breaking It Up (out 25 August) maintains the quality output, building on the previous singles' use of beats and throwing in keys and strings from the heyday of house to create a potential dancefloor monster - with added kids' choir!

Won over by these? In that case, Youth Novels is a must-read from start to finish. From the opening spoken-word intro Melodies & Desires to moody epilogue Window Blues, which for some reason brings to mind Tarantino, this is a captivating journey to appease any bookworm. The production approach makes everything sound so simple, and yet there are plenty of idiosyncrasies to fall in love with, not least of all the sax and girly backing vocals that seemingly come out of nowhere to join the minimal guitar on the percussion-led Dance, Dance, Dance. The jerky, Robyn-esque electro-pop of Complaints Department sticks out like a sore thumb - but one that you want to kiss better, of course - among 'chapters' that betray this girl's age (she's twenty-two) with lyrical concerns centred on, you guessed it, boys. However, even on the Adele-alike Tonight and Everybody But Me, she comes up trumps, her fragile voice lending an honesty to the naivety of certain lyrics ('Should I buy me another glass of wine/And forget about time?'). Best of all is Time Flies, which sounds like it might break if you put it on repeat - so don't, please, it's too beautiful!



out of 10

Last updated: 18/04/2018 22:30:36

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