Friday 15 November 2019

Review: Lykke Li

Tripod, Dublin

Ed Power

SHROUDED in dry ice and darting strobe lights, a black-robed Lykke Li swoops on stage like a character from a dark fairytale.

Swaying on nose-bleed heels, shoulder-length hair apparently possessed of a life of its own, the Swedish pop sensation's Angelina Jolie pout is offset by a caged-panther prowl and the ferocious manner in which she thwacks a cymbal with a drum stick.

In the throbbing, industrial gloom, she is 'terrible beauty' personified. Could there be a more appropriate entrance for a singer whose music steers an electrifyingly eerie course between Britney Spears and Nine Inch Nails?

This daughter of Stockholm hippies may be statuesque and blessed with movie star bone structure but she's no attention-hungry ingenue. In interviews, she does not conceal her disdain for the celebrity world she has been perpetually on the brink of joining since her 2008 debut 'Youth Novels'.

Every time she primps her lips for a magazine shoot or slinks around in a promo video a little bit of her soul, you sense, turns to rust.

Given her reluctance to embrace the fame monster, she must be conflicted over the lavish praise heaped on her latest LP, 'Wounded Rhymes'. A dark, clanking pop odyssey, it lays bare all that is gloriously contradictory about Li.

In places she sounds like a young Madonna, in others Bjork fronting a heavy metal band or Britney in a gothic rock opera. The record is bloody, baroque and provocative -- and never less than mesmerising.

In Matrix-esque cowl and leather hot pants, Li radiates a blinding ice-queen charisma as she moves between the up-tempo angst rock of 'I Follow Rivers' and the digitalised pagan shriek of 'Dance Dance Dance'.

"I'm your prostitute, you gon' get some," she intones gravely on her biggest hit 'Get Some', surely the least enticing come on in entertainment history.

Lykke Li's a star, no question, but good luck warming yourself in her glow.

Irish Independent

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