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Album Review

Lykke Li, 'Wounded Rhymes'

March 14, 2011

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“Sadness is my boyfriend/ Oh, sadness, I’m your girl.’’ Most artists would imbue a line like that, from a song called “Sadness Is a Blessing,’’ with melancholy, perhaps even pity. Not Lykke Li, though. The Swedish pop singer wears her heart on her sleeve like a badge of honor on “Wounded Rhymes,’’ her vexing sophomore album that’s sad-eyed one minute, slinky and sly the next. Li seems to thrive on the vagaries of love, like being smitten at an age when you don’t know any better. “Come on, honey, give yourself completely/ And do it all, although you can’t believe it/ Youth knows no pain,’’ she sings with strident abandon on “Youth Knows No Pain.’’ The sonically arresting album, which couches Li’s girl-group aspirations in a sheen of industrial grime, creates tension when the lyrics call for it. The acoustic strum of “I Know Places’’ eventually tapers off in a haze of ambient sounds in search of a David Lynch movie. On “Unrequited Love,’’ Li sounds like the entertainment at a high school prom circa 1959. “Get Some’’ is more explicit, a dirty electro-pop come-on on which she teases, “I’m your prostitute/ You gonna get some.’’ (Out now) JAMES REED

ESSENTIAL “Unrequited Love’’

Lykke Li performs at the House of Blues May 20.