Tag Archives: Lykke Li

The Best Albums of 2011

I’m naming 12 albums to my best-of list because there are 12 months in a year, and so it feels like a less arbitrary number than 10, even if it is also less round. Plus, where good music is concerned, more is always more. If you put Wilco at the top of your ballot, you forgo any chance of seeming fashionable (especially if you put them ahead of Frank Ocean and Tune-Yards), but if you’re going to engage in any activity as subjective as ranking the albums released in a given year, listing them in rough order of how much solace you’ve taken in them is the only honest rubric. If you haven’t heard any of these records, I feel qualified in saying that there is one sort of solace or another to be found in each of them.

Happy New Year, everybody.

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Lykke Li/Yuck

Youth hurts. Here are two excellent examples of how.

Lykke Li: Wounded Rhymes
The song titles say it all. Three in sequence: “Love Out Of Lust,” “Unrequited Love,” “Get Some.” That’s a story as old as time, and one that’s bound to repeat itself. But it’s her story now, and she’ll tell it her way: with walls of sound like those of Phil Spector himself, who was by no means being glib in describing them as “little symphonies for the kids,” and with smarts that allow her to follow the above triptych with “Rich Kid Blues,” which she knows she has, in case you were afraid she wasn’t also self aware. “Youth Knows No Pain” at the outset, but only because she’s drunk and dancing – she’s devoting herself to sadness before all is said and done. She’s grown more assured since her debut (she was 21 then and she’s 25 now) and also (because she was 21 then and she’s 25 now) more bruised. “I’ll get back what I gave my men/Get back what I lost to them,” she pledges in “Unrequited Love.” We know how that will turn out, but so does she. So don’t go saying you told her so. A-

Yuck: Yuck
“Everybody has a mild crucifixion,” sings front man Daniel Blumberg on this young British quartet’s dreamy debut. Like every thwarted romantic of a certain age, Blumberg doesn’t have it quite as bad as he thinks he does. Thankfully, he and his mates know how to tune their guitars to that magic key between spiky and sweet – a great one for selling lyrics that confuse breakups with heart attacks and girls’ names with benedictions. “Me and my guitar/drowning down down down/ready when the pain kicks in,” goes the opener. Theirs is a familiar song, still worth playing after all these years for its ability to thwart disillusionment the way one’s mid-twenties thwart romanticism. A-
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