A few weeks back I became the owner of "Youth Novels", the first album by Swedish songstress Lykke Li. It took me a few listens to get into - when you've only heard the singles, sometimes it can be hard to warm to the album tracks. Here's why:
Lykke Li's selling point is obviously her unusually cute and childlike voice which sounds like a very talented twelve-year-old. And this is essentially what drives the whole album - many songs get by on little more than hand claps or little intrusions by a piano, particularly "Dance Dance Dance", "Time Flies" and her first single "Little Bit", and occasionally Lykke will allow herself some works with the synth jutting in to make something a little (little being the operative word) grand.
And then there's the opening track "Melodies and Desires" which was a shock for someone not used to hearing the singing of little Lykke. Her real voice, which she also uses on the short and oddly haunting - due to its fast acoustic guitar and vacuous vocals - "This Trumpet On My Head" is deeper and gives the music a little more depth.
But then, who needs depth when Lykke has composed two amazing singles that provide the most magnificent moments on the album? "I'm Good I'm Gone" is another hand-clap-and-piano combo that makes use of some vocoders and gentle drumwork to turn it into something more attention-grabbing than you might first think. But it's "Breaking It Up" with its disjointed choir and repetitive organ that ultimitely steals the show. Placed between the minimal yet somewhat disturbing "Complaint Department" and the sweet "Everybody But Me" (take note of the message in that song - follow Lykke's lead, kids!) it storms through like a piece of jag lightning over a settled ocean. It's these moments of brilliance that keep your attention well and truly going.
Of course, every good album needs a good ending. "Window Blues" sees Lykke showing a more adult side to her singing. Her vocals dip, the piano is urgent and ever so slightly out of tune (in a good way of course) and the harmonies give the perfect ending to a much more diverse and exciting album than you may first think.
Like all the female artists at the minute who, through no fault of their own, seem incapable of selling any albums at all, Lykke Li has created something entirely different to anything else on the market. This is an album that grows on you with each play, with each track developing new and interesting facets with each listen.