Score: 9/10Published by Joe Stadele for TWTHS on May 6, 2014 Release date: May 6, 2014
Apparently the theme for 2014 is releasing the best albums of the year in pairs. We had the release of Beck’s Morning Phase and St. Vincent’s St. Vincent in February. Kicking off May, we have tUnE-yArDs’ Nikki Nack and Lykke Li’s I Never Sleep. All albums seemingly polar opposites but equal in creativity and presentation.
While 2010’s Wounded Rhymes presented a diverse, self-assured and flirtatious Lykke Li, I Never Sleep’s shares an aching vulnerability. With song title’s like “Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone,” “Sleeping Alone,” “Gunshot,” “No Rest For The Wicked,” and the title track “I Never Learn,” you can expect the music isn’t going to me make you feel peachy. On her third album, Li will make you feel the gut-wrenching pain, regret and, ultimately, acceptance one feels on the other-side of love. In it’s simplicity, I Never Learn is near perfection.
Opening with a simple acoustic guitar, Li sings, “His love burns like a lightning, I’m right here I’m your star crossed lover, I lie here like a starless lover, I’ll die here as your phantom lover…I never learn.” And with those words, a gorgeous wall of lush strings kicks in from underneath and brings the title track to a dramatic conclusion. Li excels in structuring her songs with underlying hooks, from the galloping drum and piano twist on “Just Like A Dream” to the nearly uplifting “Never Gonna Love Again.” While there isn’t a track as the self-assured “got you round my finger” “Get Some” (Wounded Rhymes), centerpiece tracks, “Gunshot” and “Love Me Like I’m Not Made Of Stone” showcase Li at her most catchy and vulnerable, respectively.
Beyond the lovelorn aches and pains, what really translates for me on this album is how well the album is crafted in it’s simplicity (much like Beck’s Morning Phase). I Never Learn is consistent, addictive and you can see the growth of Lykke Li as an artist. Come the end of 2014, I Never Learn will make at least one Top Ten list.