Sad songs say so much. Sadness – the yearning, the ennui, the melancholy, the wistfulness – comes in the bluest shades imaginable on Lykke Li's new record. There were elements of this colour scheme on previous albums Youth Novels and Wounded Rhymes, but it came disguised by Li's playful waspishness. After all, the last place you think about the blues is under a spinning glitterball at peak pop-time.
On I Never Learn, though, it's blue all the way, an album of bruised, fragile heartbreakers. Every song is slow-burning, muted, broody, subtle – those minor-key dramas pulled from the pages and set-pieces of personal experience. I never learn? Even the damn title hints at what's to come.
You could start this mapping of Li's diary notes with No Rest for the Wicked, which comes with a hefty side helping of haunted, sculpted, chilled atmospherics. The title track is similarly imbued, with Li's vocals augmenting and emphasising the quiet torment at the heart of the matter.
I Never Learn isn't all one-note musical introspection. Both Gunshot and Love Me Live I'm Not Made of Stone are relatively upholstered by their sweeps of sounds, while the gospel choir embellishing the chorus on Heart of Steel add waves and waves of pathos to the mood.
What Lykke Li has created on I Never Learn is a world where the stripped-back, minimal aesthetic allows her to push the lyrics front-stage. That said lyrics paint an unsettling, occasionally macabre, often gloomy picture of Li's world is her choice. A strident, brave, hugely compelling affair. lykkeli.com
Download: Heart of Steel, Gunshot, I Never Learn