Lykke Li: So Sad So Sexy review – the erotic power of lovelorn misery

Fri, Jun 1, 2018, 05:00

   
 

Album:
So Sad So Sexy

Artist:
Lykke Li

Label:
RCA

Genre:
Pop

So Sad So Sexy. Never has an album title been more relatable. Amiright, ladies? It’s rare that an album title can summarise the essence of a musician, but so sad so sexy has been Lykke Li’s MO since the release of her debut album Youth Novels in 2008. However, this time round, instead of dinky indie songs that contain a twee frailty, Li dives right into a pool of Tumblr-stylised depression that echoes within a spacious electronic soundscape, leaving us with nothing else to do but doggy-paddle behind her in support.

In the sad pop and R&B era of Drake, The Weeknd, Lana Del Rey and SZA, Lykke Li has long worn the crown, and her fourth album plays into the self-inflicted misery of dead-end relationships and blind devotion, all the while owning the title of a Bad Woman. “Drink up, drink up, I’m so f*cked up, all I want is you,” she sings on Sex Money Feelings Die (the titles are particularly on the nose here) and, as our fingers hover over the send button on a late-night text to an unrequited love, it’s comforting to know that Li faces the same hurdles. “You left your smokes by the window, I’m gonna wait by the door,” she staggers on Last Piece of My Heart, a line so wrapped in desperation that tiny gestures like forgotten cigarettes can be taken as a sign that a relationship isn’t over, a desperation that can only come from the sleepless, paranoid nights she details on Two Nights.

Relatable as this may be, where we develop puffy eyes and inflamed nostrils after a deep, body-shuddering sob, Li does something different. “I was only lying when I looked in your eyes, I’m crying diamonds like a river inside and it’s so sad, so sexy,” she sings on the title track. Diamond tears. Nothing less for our sad (and sexy) girl Li.

Lykke Li: Hard Rain

On lead single Hard Rain Falling Li’s vocals come in strong, until they are layered and spliced to create a robotic effect while a drumbeat acts as the song’s heartbeat. It’s the start of the Swedish singer’s journey as she excavates the lies we tell ourselves to survive sadness. The timeline of So Sad So Sexy could take place in anything from a week to a year to a decade because she captures the dark space that a broken heart can send you to.

From desperation to denial to self-destruction, Li is pining for a love that has already checked out. On Better Alone Than Lonely, she constructs a temporary strength, imagining the person that she could be without her lover, but this singular character crumbles down in the viciously and harrowing Bad Woman. “I’m a bad woman but I’m still your woman,” she sings.

Utopia closes the album, a final plea for her lover to reconsider this one-sided decision to pack up and leave. It’s uplifting, but it’s only in her fantasy world that their love still stands a chance. So Sad So Sexy is written from the viewpoint of someone baring her soul and casting her last bit of dignity aside, and it’s laden in an all-compassing misery.

Veering towards a more R&B sound, and songs such as Deep End and Jaguars in the Air take a more upbeat approach to the doldrums. But don’t let that fool you. This, Lykke Li’s fourth album, is dripping in self-pity, the kind you might need to selfishly experience before snapping out of it. lykkeli.com