Lykke Li doesn’t want you. Let’s just get that straight.
Lykke Li wants me. Or at least I think so. Because even though it’s a cliche to say that it sounds like someone is singing just to you, that’s what she does. Particularly when the most common word in her lyrics is the word “you,” and you’re standing in the pit at the Fox Theater on Wednesday night, and you (you!) seem to make eye contact right when she says it, so that suddenly it’s not the royal “you,” it’s you, as in “Hey you. You in the tan coat. Hi.” And you – or at least I – blush, for a moment, not caring at all who this Jerome guy is, although he may just be her noisy upstairs neighbor.
Lykke Li doesn’t want anyone. At least not you (royal “you.”) She hardly can even stand to have you look at her. That’s why she’s draped in black. That, and because it’s a funeral. A funeral for her love. Or a celebration of heartbreak, but those are same thing.
Lykke Li is in control. A few of the songs from her first album, particularly “I’m Good, I’m Gone,” still have the heavy stamp of producer/co-writer/collaborator Björn Yttling, but otherwise these songs are Lykke Li’s. The band is Lykke Li’s, and they steamroll through every track from the latest album, Wounded Rhymes, in an emotional arch that roughly seems to go from collapse to strength, culminating with a Kanye West infused version of “Youth Knows No Pain” and “Get Some.”
Aside from what Lykke Li calls “really indulgent cover song,” “Unchained Melody,” (it kind of was, but let’s still blame the movie Ghost for that) everything goes off according to a clear plan, particularly the extra theatrical lighting and slow building dugga-dugga-da beat around “Rich Kid Blues.” From there to the end, they just smash it.
Lykke Li comes back on stage for an encore, the sparsely accompanied slow doo-wop number, “Unrequited Love.” A few minutes later, there’s a bottleneck in the lobby of the Fox, people clamoring around the merch table. Among the swag were a number of t-shirts, a couple screenprinted with her face, but the majority just have text, a message which reads: “LYKKE LI LOVES YOU”. Someone once said you “can’t buy me love.” They were wrong. You can buy it on a t-shirt. Lykke Li loves me.
2. I’m Good I’m Gone
3. Sadness Is A Blessing
4. I Follow Rivers
5. Dance Dance Dance
6. Silence My Song
7. I Know Places
8. Unchained Melody (Righteous Brothers)
9. Little Bit
10. Love Out Of Lust
11. Rich Kid Blues
12. Silent Shout (The Knife)
13. Youth Know No Pain / Power (Kanye West)
14. Get Some
15. Unrequited Love
Also: Maybe it was just all the fabric flapping in the fog, but I had some weird Stevie Nicks moments during the night. Particularly during openers, First Aid Kit, Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg. Tremendous voices on those two, who have a second album, The Lion’s Roar, coming out next year. But the Fleetwood Mac feel may have just been when the drummer leaned away from folk to rock drumming.