Lykke Li – so sad so sexy

Lykke Li's latest album fails to strike a satisfying balance, and while it's not a terrible album it's frustratingly complacent after two outstanding albums

Album Review by Lewis Wade | 05 Jun 2018
  • Lykke Li – So Sad So Sexy
Album title: so sad so sexy
Artist: Lykke Li
Label: RCA
Release date: 8 Jun

Lykke Li's fourth album, so sad so sexy is not a big move away from her previous material, but it does feel like a significant moment in her career, and not necessarily for the better. 2014's I Never Learn was a lean and compact take on the break-up album. Though it came from a dark place, it was genuinely life-affirming in its epic snapshots of love and loss, and the lack of additional personnel made for a cohesive listen. so sad, however, pivots between pop/trap maximalism and aching personal sentiments, generally failing to strike a satisfying balance.

The album's first two songs feature more writers and producers than the whole of INL and too many cooks are definitely spoiling the broth. Rostam Batmanglij's pitch-shifted background vocals are a nice addition to the otherwise so-so hard rain, but deep end is the album's first deepdive into hip-hop/R'n'B production (from Li's partner and Kanye collaborator, Jeff Bhasker). The result is a Destiny's Child knock-off with a repetitive chorus (a criticism we'd level at at least four other songs on the album).

There's also little lyrical deviation, with almost every song about some aspect of a relationship, and usually about Li's regret about her failings – 'Don't go before I let you know / I'm sorry I caused you sorrow,' 'Did I block it? / It's my fault we lost it' – which would be fine as it's served her brilliantly in the past, but the introspection is mostly half-baked, with vague platitudes taking the place of real insight. Only the final song, utopia gives a clear sense of hope, but it feels unearned after a half hour of hollow ambiguity, and the preceding song, bad woman, which is the album at its most repetitively bland. It's actually not a terrible record, really, but it's frustratingly complacent after two outstanding albums.

Listen to: last piece, sex money feelings die