Lykke Li: So Sad So Sexy review – despair you can dance to


From the post-adolescent ennui of Lorde’s Melodrama to the Weeknd’s My Dear Melancholy EP and Drake naming his latest single I’m Upset, lugubrious pop is all around. Indeed, a recent study found that the genre has become sadder over the past 30 years, a kind of Adele-ification process, if you will. Despite this, it’s also “more danceable” and “party-like”, which may explain why the latest album from Sweden’s sad-pop champion Lykke Li has the power to trigger both shape-cutting and existential crises. So Sad So Sexy marks Li’s return to music after having a baby, losing her mother and experiencing a creative dry spell, and is defined by overt, intoxicating emotion in lieu of her more quaint, contained sadness of old.

From opener Hard Rain, whose polyphonic R&B swagger jars with its message of lovers needing to be put “back together / though we never been apart”, all the way to closing track Utopia – released on Mother’s Day – and its touching, if simple, chorus of “we could be utopia, utopia”, a sense of bittersweet happiness and streamlined sadness flows through its 10 tracks. At times it’s a hard sell; Deep End’s water noises and lines like “bae, you burned me” could feel naff, if not for the rawness in Li’s voice, while Last Piece’s pared-back drum machine and synth haze staggers between vulnerable and understated. But when this juxtaposition works – as on the title track, a worthy entry to the sad pop canon – the effect is sad, sexy and enthralling.


Hannah J Davies

The GuardianTramp

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