Lykke Li is on the verge of releasing her third studio album, I Never Learn. As she recently revealed, it is intended as the final chapter in a trilogy of her album progression. Noting that is covers the “intense period” of being a woman in her 20’s, her latest single No Rest for the Wicked epitomizes a trilogy of pure emotion and often heart wrenching indie pop ballads. Given her outstanding past releases and this warning sign of her upcoming album, it is set to conclude a three-pronged phenomenon that has caused more devastation than the Bermuda Triangle.
The Svensk minx shot to the big time with her 2008 debut Youth Novels landing her on massive bills like Glastonbury and Coachella, whilst her 2011 effort Wounded Rhymes earned spots on the likes of The New York Times and Rolling Stone’s best album lists for the year. Marked early on as a “pop princess”, she has denied the tag, pointing out that ‘pop’ has become a negative and fake image, whereas in the day of the likes of The Beatles, the talented singer/songwriter/musicians were regarded as pop but would not be by today’s standards. With that, she has garnered a clear intention to establish herself in the music industry, and with this latest single she is succeeding.
Li released the first tease of her album, Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone, earlier in March. Whilst it is heartachingly stunning, it is a stripped back, strummy slow burner with her intimate vocals allowed to take the fore. No Rest for the Wicked however breaks back into the more classic Lykke Li mould, with (alternative) radio-friendly sensibilities previously seen on I Follow Rivers and Get Some, a style made all her own through her unique voice. The track generates emotional, gripping production; the piano that drives it feels as though it’s being played in a vast empty space, with thundering percussion and synth adding an element of grandeur.
Lykke provides an honest insight into the song, noting that it was written at home in Sweden while she was packing up and leaving the end of a long relationship, echoing the sadness, hurt and guilt she felt; the raw emotion bleeding through in the demo vocal cut used. Forming another bruised, dramatic ballad, you can feel her heartache and loneliness. The lyrics are reflective and sincere in detailing her emotional turmoil, juxtaposed against the powerful instrumentation and the addictive, piercing piano riff that provide a sense of courage and hope.
Lykke has indicated that every song on the upcoming I Never Learn is a power ballad, and from what we’ve heard so far it’s going to be a sombre success; she’s certainly at least learnt where her skills lie. She continues to write about the difficulties of being a young woman, whilst moving away from the apparent persona of a pop artist. Feeling as though she has been misunderstood – pointing out that as a female musician she is judged on appearances and other things she “doesn’t really care about” – No Rest for the Wicked is a sure sign that she’s found her voice, and deserves to be recognised as a singer-songwriter.