Lykke Li – I Never Learn
The cracks of a broken heart are projected loud and clear for all to hear in this record. This is the epitome of a breakup album, her final instalment from the three-album trilogy.
Lykke Li has arguably produced her best album yet, hollowing her core emotions by laying out her vulnerabilities, selectively within each song. The album cover is a flawless example of the attire a widower would wear to a funeral, holding her heart tight and effortlessly, continuing in context with dark tones of black and white in reflection of a melancholy art piece to come.
Lykke Li has grown immensely since in first album ‘Youth Novels’ released in 2008 and her second album ‘Wounded Rhymes’ released in 2011. Her previous music tendered to sway between dark and subtle overtones, however, no longer does she hold back her vocal range nor the lengths to write a heartfelt song. Her writing has grown and developed vastly with her lyrics sounding more realistic, constructed from raw emotion, straight from the heart. I feel she has found her artistic ground where she can now write freely with no judgment. This is a clear indication she is writing for herself rather than for the satisfaction of others, this is her therapy and I can take in her words humbly.
Lykke Li’s tortured emotions through her voice, are clearly from deep pain, which mirrors her writing. Lost in the first two lines of ‘Gunshot’, a replica to a shot of despair “firing to her heart”. She has created deeper than ever before expressions of a dark depression, “longing for a poison, like a cancer for its prey”. She has summed up in a few words how anyone can feel at their lowest point. She articulates an endless stream of ache, morning the loss of someone she “really loved bad” trying to accept she’ll “never get them back”. The simplicity of a solo drum with the echoes of her voice, combined with a harmonizing backing, we are able to listen and understand the lyrics, connect with her and live her pain when she wrote this.
‘Love me like I’m not made of stone’ is the home base to lykke Li’s heart. True feelings are evident within in her tone merged with the lyrics. Beginning with similar chords to ‘Yellow’ by Cold Play, she conveys this song in a pleading, begging manner through a wounded serenade that can only influence you. This is the one song that stands out from this album, where we are faced to witness the rare aftermath of a broken heart within a song. The crack of her voice in selective parts identifies to the listener that those specific words and lines mean more only conveyed when “reliving the moment of the specific emotion”.
“Love me deep, until you can't” is the perfect example, her strain to sing “until you cant”, reinforces that she is still is in love and wants to be loved, while fighting the probability of not being able to anymore and trying to “grapple” with the inevitable, while acknowledging it. This is a very empowering single, brilliant in some respects, the collaboration between her voice and sublime but dominant instrumentals, allows us to focus on what she is trying to say, using her tone to underpin the music.
Even though each song is a sad reflection of the low point in Lykke Li’s life, they also target the individual thoughts we are faced with during and after the reality of loss. We see her optimistic highs with the strength of inspiring tracks ‘Silver line’ and ‘Heart of Steel’, with guarded walls in “I never learn” and “I will never Love Again”, faced with the traumatic experiences she has endured.
These lyrics remind us, that some of us can be guilty of second guessing ourselves, ready to accept fault, imposing self “rehabilitation” steps to heal.
Here is “thirty-two minutes” you owe to yourself, and feel inspired or even “awakened” as we come to a close of her album.
‘I never learn’ title is the perfect completion to her series. We have seen Lykke Li grow and mature through each album, voicing the “amazing highs” with reminders of the “ground zero of lows” which haven’t expressed quite so real or authentic, until now.
Lykke Li has laid all her fresh emotions on the table and allowed herself to grieve honestly and share with her fans by not holding back, producing a pure, untainted story in music form.
I hope she doesn’t have to go through another break up to make something as marvellous as this, but I can’t wait to see what’s next.