Last week I received an advance copy of Youth Novels, the debut album from Lykke Li which is due to be released here on June 9th.Â Â Lykke Li gets talked about at the latest Swedish teen pop phenomenon so might be supposed to be a bit outside my natural tastes, but things aren’t that simple.
For a start she is not a teenager, although at 22 she is still young enough that she might as well be.Â Secondly, her music is not really pop in the ABBA/Roxette/Ace of Bass or even Neneh Cherry sense.Â Insofar as she has her own independent label she is more of an indie singer.Â She is Swedish though.
As far as the music goes, it is largely acoustic, with some unconventional instrumentation.Â Guitars are not at all prominent in this album but are just thrown in with the piano, percussion, and horns.Â Anyone who saw her performance on Later with Jools Holland recently will see that the choice of accompaniment is not exactly traditional. Â Given the Nordic background and verging on the avante garde style comparisons with Bjork are unavoidable but I think Lykke Li is more accessible – although she is unlikely to become as well-known.Â Its just a feeling I have.
Although there is some validity to the Bjork comparison, the overall sound is a bit more like Arcade Fire with touches of Kate Bush in places, and one track even sounds a bit Penguin Cafe Orchestra-ish.Â Her voice is quite breathy most of the time, which might turn out to be annoying, but it hasn’t yet. On some of the more sparse arrangements the voice fills out the sound and is an essential part of the overall sound.
There are fourteen tracks on the album.Â I found five of them to be immediately very likeable – the more up-tempo songs.Â Another seven songs took a few listens before becoming as liked.Â The other two will take some time – one is more trance-y and ambient with spoken word over the top, which you really have to be in the mood for.Â But I like the idea of having a few tracks that are more challenging. In the long run I am more likely to be listening to this album just because it is not all immediate.
Even though I reckon the catchy songs are dead catchy I’m not sure they will attract too much attention, I guess a lot depends on the radio stations and whether they playlist them.Â There is another possibility though – a few of the tracks sound like they would be very suitable for some club remixes and if that happens it might lead to a few more people discovering the album.
I do know that I like this album, and not just because it was a freebie.Â Whether in a year’s time I will turn out to have been an ahead-of-the-curve trend-setter or to have been a fan of a no-hit wonder I neither know nor care.Â I’ve reached the point where its enough for me to just know that I like it.