“I wanted the record to have the intimacy of listening to a voice memo on a macro dose of LSD,” says Lykke Li, the Swedish songwriter and singer whose new album attempts (says the press release) “to compress a lifetime of romantic obsession and female fantasy into a hyper sensory landscape”. In order to make this experience (LSD-enhanced or not) as far-reaching as possible, Li connects the album’s eight songs with accompanying visual loops.
Aside from the well-presented visuals (one-minute videos, directed by Theo Lindquist, that aim, says Li, “to capture the beauty and grandeur of a three-hour European arthouse movie, while making something native to modern media”), her fifth album is a sparse affair. There are no digital instruments, no click tracks, and the slight, shivery vocals are recorded on a cheap hand-held drum microphone. What isn’t missing is the singer’s established (and acclaimed) knack of fusing mournful, mindful reveries with quality melodic pop hooks that infiltrate the head and refuse to budge.
Not one song misses a mark or a beautiful beat. From the start (No Hotel) to the end (u&i) and those sandwiched in between (especially the agreeably dizzy Highway to Your Heart, Happy Hurts, and Carousel), Li places her finger firmly on the sweet spot halfway between the bliss of Cocteau Twins' Liz Fraser and the glory of outstanding pop music.