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Posted at 4:54 PM ET, 02/25/2011

Album review: Lykke Li, "Wounded Rhymes"

By Chris Richards

lykke liLykke Li would be better off stripping some layers from her sound.

Lykke Li is a singer so popular in her native Sweden that her face recently adorned a Levi's ad campaign that wallpapered the Stockholm subway system. Wearing heavy mascara, the wildly talented 24-year-old stared down rush-hour commuters with a ridiculous quote printed over her head: "I believe life's too short for compromises and bad fitting jeans."

So what about bad-fitting songs? Because, unlike her denim, Lykke likes her songs way too big. The tunes that crowd her sophomore album, "Wounded Rhymes," sound dense, distended and dipped in oceans of reverb deep enough to drown even her tremendous charisma.

"Sadness Is a Blessing" rebuilds Phil Spector's wall of sound for the high-definition generation, and it sounds so boomy it's easy to miss the song's devastatingly simple refrain: "Sadness is my boyfriend / Oh, sadness, I'm your girl."

Sonically, nothing is simple on "Wounded Rhymes." Drums fire like cannons. Church organs swell into moaning tidal waves. It's all too loud, and the elegance of Li's lyrics and tenderness of her voice are dwarfed by the clamor. There might be a brilliant pop album hiding here, but you'll need a couple of Advil to find it. And life's definitely too short for that kind of compromise.

By Chris Richards  | February 25, 2011; 4:54 PM ET
Categories:  Album reviews  | Tags:  Lykke Li  
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