Happiness doesn’t really sell, does it? Not in music at least. Just ask Adele. Or even Lykke Li, who for years has traded on her Wounded Rhymes or inability to learn. Since then she’s married, had a kid, and all seems swell… so the title of so sad so sexy is either an acute stroke of self-awareness, or signposting an assumed character just for the sake of it.
You only need to see the inconsistency of the singles so far to sense that it’s the latter. Hard Rain is a typically dark and atmospheric romp that fits a Lykke Li progression, Deep End feels like a ramble into nothingness. Two Nights is a solid punch of macabre pop, while Sex Money Feelings Die has a chorus that seems like it should belong to an entirely different artist altogether.
In fairness, Lykke Li does the best with the production she’s been given. Her performance is earnest and her coos are filled with full body on songs like Last Piece, but it’s those bloody trap beats – the albatross around the neck of pop and R&B right now – that ruin her. Jaguars In The Air may be the most insignificant piece she’s ever created, an almost baffling song that wouldn’t even get a look-in on most buzz blogs. In fact, it’s close to embarrassing.
It’s not that we want Lykke Li to play to type. But we’d rather she didn’t pretend she still has a certain type, and embrace a natural progression rather than pose with fake gestures that don’t resonate at all. Bad Woman‘s chorus says “I’m a bad woman, but I’m still your woman” in the most empty refrain, and it highlights the problem with Lykke Li’s latest: if you have to spell it out so clearly, it’s probably not true at all.