Live: Lykke Li Puts A Spell On Central Park

Lykke Li
Central Park Summerstage
Monday, August 1

Better than: Throwing out love incantations at home.

The title of Lykke Li's second album, Wounded Rhymes, implies sullen dwelling on past offenses, but the record itself is much more peeved than those two words imply. It opens with the barnburning, denial-soaked "Youth Knows No Pain" then spins through the other stages of grief that come part and parcel with lust and heartbreak and all those emotions' attendant actions and reactions. (Also, dancing.)

Yet despite the agony in some of her lyrics, she was in good spirits; this makes sense in a way, given that the pain of heartbreak is usually preceded by the head-rush provided by flirtation and infatuation. "I'm so happy to be here; I can't believe it," she said after tearing through her opening number; gratitude would run alongside lovelorn feelings throughout the evening, as she weaved in and out of songs about bad romances and took turns on kazoo and autoharp and cymbal.

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Live: Lykke Li Soundtracks Your Personal Makeout Session at Le Poisson Rouge

Lykke Li
(Le) Poisson Rouge
December 1, 2010

Better Than: Your standard overpraised Swedish pop starlet.

The Swedish ingénue-cum-big-deal Lykke Li is a little bit of a thing. No more than five feet tall, she fills a space like someone twice that size. At Le Poisson Rouge on Wednesday night she was working a sort of evil Stevie Nicks vibe, in a black cape-sweater and severe black eye makeup, her blonde hair now a shade darker than any respectable Stockholm girl's ought to be. And she swayed and kicked onstage not unlike Nicks, channeling feline vamp and panther-esque prowl, occasionally banging a pair of drumsticks on a snare drum or a tambourine. She wiggles and grinds and explodes while she performs, rarely with grace, but with power. So it's not hard to see why this once impish singer is working the dramatic edges of pop--she often seems uncomfortably ecstatic. Wounded Rhymes, her new album, set for a February 2011 release, does all of the things its predecessor, 2008's hooky, finely manicured Youth Novels did not--that is, it wallows and growls, intermittently. Li obliged with a set splitting the two--half for the forlorn, and the rest for the lovers.

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Jay-Z Doesn't Show at Diesel Party; Kanye, Clipse Do

We're gonna go ahead and suggest that yesterday was the first and last time Jay-Z and Swedish livewire Lykke Li will ever be confused for one another. The smart money for a good part of yesterday was that Jay-Z was maybe definitely due to step onstage last night with the Roots at that ridiculous Diesel party at Webster Hall (for which you actually had to have been wearing Diesel jeans inside a Diesel store at some point in the last few weeks just to get a ticket). Instead, it turned out to be--surprise, rap fans--Lykke Li, who apparently did a handful of songs with the band, including, somehow, "The Seed" (?!!?). Also, she and ?uestlove had some sort of a drum-off? Anyway, there was in fact one unscheduled bright shining star in the building--Kanye West, who came out to do "Kinda Like a Big Deal" with the Clipse. Video above. Passion Pit, the Noisettes, and a whole lot of other people played as well. In other news, Jay-Z is almost definitely playing a show somewhere in the vicinity of New York tonight, assuming we all don't get hit by lightning.

Tonight They're Gonna Rock You Tonight: Art Brut, Lykke Li, and of Course, Dave Matthews

We'll think of a better name for this soon: Until then, here's Monday night's finest NYC shows.

Holding tickets to the sold-out Dave Matthews gig at the Beacon this evening? Well, here's the most responsible financial advice you've gotten all year: SELL SELL SELL. Watch the thing on Hulu instead, and you'll make enough of a profit for round-trip fare to Johannesburg.

Ohio teen Jessica Lea Mayfield, who spent her childhood singing for the family bluegrass band, plunges Bowery Ballroom into Rust Belt lethargy. Her glimmering songwriting has turned all sorts of heads, including that of Black Keys guitarist/producer Dan Auerbach.

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Lykke Li on Nearly Getting Mugged in Bushwick


It would be easy to dismiss 23-year old Swedish singer Lykke Li as the latest manufactured pop confection. After all, last year's debut Youth Novels--produced by Bjorn Yttling of Peter, Bjorn and John--yielded several electro bubblegummy hits, songs with hooks that stuck in your head like claws. And the accompanying videos showed the blonde sylph with a look and sultry swagger that seemed made for the camera. But scrape the surface a little and it's obvious that Lykke--whose given name is Li Lykke Timotej Zachrisson--has something intangible that runs deeper than most. For one, there are her lyrics, which skew a little darker than most disposable pop blasts (from "Little Bit": "I would do it/Push the button/Pull the trigger/Over a mountain/Jump off a cliff/Cause you know I love you love a little bit"). For another, there's her music, full of quirky twists and turns, like the noisy sax solo in the middle of "Dance, Dance Dance" or the alternate, acoustic cabaret-like version of "I'm Good, I'm Gone" that shows off her Nina Simone-influences. It doesn't hurt that she's also street-savvy enough (or is it flirty?) to get herself out of a Bushwick mugging.

We recently caught up with Lykke in Brooklyn, a couple weeks before her show at the Highline Ballroom on June 1.

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