Swedish indie pop sensation Lykke Li rarely disappoints. The way her unique voice mixes with melodious synth arrangements is inimitable. Sadly, the new album I Never Learn can’t compare to the ingenuity of her past releases Youth Novels or Wounded Rhymes.
I Never Learn only has 9 tracks. Which is pretty short for a full album which usually has around 11 or 12 tracks. The album cover is black and white and shows Lykke hooded with a black cloak and a veil over her head. It looks very similar to the album art of her past releases which supports the fact that these three albums were conceived as a trilogy.
While Youth Novels had this special playful humor and Wounded Rhymes showed Lykke’s emancipation and an underlying aggressiveness, I Never Learn is really just a 33 minute long sob story – beautifully crafted as we are used to when it come to Lykke Li, but still overdramatic and whiny at times. Nevertheless, Lykke Li is an incredible songwriter and her songs are great. I Never Learn isn’t different. Its songs’ melodies are stunningly beautiful, either with a minimalistic backbone or an extremely rich orchestra.
The opener “I Never Learn” might not be vocal-centric, but the nice long instrumental part fully compensates for that. The acoustic guitar creates a light summery feeling while its lyrics are – like the lyrics of almost every song on this album – reflective, sad, resigned and tortured.
The current single “No Rest For The Wicked” is one of the few songs on the album that contains a more upbeat rhythm. You can compare it to the biggest Lykke Li hit to date “I Follow Rivers” (no, not the EDM remix).
“Gunshot” on the other hand focuses on the haunting lyrics and vocals: the minimalistic instrumentation in the beginning makes them really stand out:
“I am longing for your poison
Like a cancer for its prey
Shot an arrow, in your harbor
Where you waited in the rain
I am siren, I am ivy
I am no one, I’m nobody
I am longing for your honey
I am longing for your love”
The chorus breaks up the silence with a big sound. The song is very radio-friendly and could be a good single release.
“Love Me Like Im Not Made Of Stone” is a simple acoustic guitar ballad with a catchy melody that I got stuck in my head right away, but Lykke’s unique voice starts to sound whiny. Just like “Silverline”, it is very dull and even gets boring after a while.
“Heart of Steel” on the other hand is again a very radio-friendly song with a nice catchy melody. It stuns with a rich orchestration and a choir which gives the song a Gospel feeling and reminded me of Florence and The Machine.
Overall, the album lacks in attitude and sass. It only consists of mid tempo tracks and ballads. I’m really missing uptempo songs like “Get Some” or “Rich Kids Blues”. The songs are beautiful when you listen to them out of context, but the album as a whole gets boring after 5 or 6 songs and it’s just not much fun to listen to.
In addition, I Never Learn doesn’t show a new side of the Swedish singer, which I was expecting from such a great artist, but maybe changing a great successful formula would have been wrong, too.
I recommend you really treat this album as a part in a trilogy and make a nice playlist with the other two albums. With “Dance, Dance, Dance”, “Break It Up” or “Get Some” in the middle, I Never Learn is a great addition to our Lykke Li collection!