Lykke Li's second album Wounded Rhymes has turned 10 years-old. It's the album that put the Swedish artist on the world stage, nabbing her a global hit in I Follow Rivers and a slew of great reviews from critics. Looking back on it, it's hard to timestamp it to 2011. It arrived in a time where alternative artists like Li, Florence + The Machine and Santigold were breaking the mainstream but there's something timeless about the songwriting here. These are mostly anthems of heartbreak of loneliness delivered with an unmistakeable directness.
While Li's debut Youth Novels was distinctly weird and whimsical, Wounded Rhymes was a bold, unshakeable statement. Li was starting down the camera in live performances and surrounding herself with drums that rumbled and crashed. It remains her most groundbreaking artistic statement and one that showed the power that can be harnessed by letting the heart unapologetically bleed out.
Here are some of the best visuals and performances from the era to take us back to 2011.
Get Some (Music Video)
Get Some was the lead-single off Wounded Rhymes and it's a brutal opening statement. "Like a shotgun needs an outcome, I'm your prostitute, you gon' get some," she sings over a rattling beat. In the monochromatic video, Li stares down the camera with fierce intensity. It was a daring expression, proving just how much Li had grown since her first album Youth Novels.
I Follow Rivers (Music Video)
I Follow Rivers went on an interesting journey after its release. The icy second single from the album arrived with an arctic video featuring Li traversing through the snow. The song was then remixed by producer The Magician and it truly took off. From soundtracking a snowy video to taking over the airwaves during the European summer, it went on quite the journey. The remix remains Li's most streamed song on Spotify.
Sadness Is A Blessing (Music Video)
Sadness Is A Blessing was one of the early standouts from the record. Co-written with Rick Nowels (Dido, Lana Del Rey), it's a haunting ballad that depicts the moment a relationship cracks. The video is also the best from this era. It features Li getting progressively drunker at a stiff restaurant and dancing while a posh crowd looks on. It's surreal but emotional and a brilliant depiction of just how public a relationship breakdown can feel.
Sadness Is A Blessing (Live On The Moon)
In true Li fashion, her live sessions for this album weren't standard. She took to 'the moon' for an acoustic performance of tracks from the album and this version of Sadness Is A Blessing is particularly stirring. Backed by guitar and tamborine, Li singing, "I ranted, I pleaded, I begged him not to go," stays with you.
Silent My Song (Live On David Letterman)
Li was hardly a household name at this point but her critical appraisal saw her find mainstream placements. She appeared on David Letterman and sang a steely version of album closer Silent My Song. Late night show performances are rarely this profound but Li brought an intensity to the stage. It's never more clear than when she stares into the soul of the camera at the end while Letterman says, "Mmmm lovely."
Jerome (The Lost Session)
There was a darkness attached to each of the videos that came from this era, or any Li era for that matter. The way she uses light and shade both in sound and visual is profound. It's particularly on display here. In an acoustic session, Li pours her heart out backed by just a few instruments and some powerful back-up singers.
Youth Knows No Pain (Acoustic)
Another raw acoustic video from the era. Youth Knows No Pain was the electric opener to the album - a wicked, unshakeable moment that cautiously welcomes us to the show. Without the instrumental theatrics, this raw version allows us to hear the bones of the song.
I Know Places (Live On The Moon)
Back on the moon, this time around Li is performing I Know Places. The song was a hint of where she was to go on her ballad-heavy follow-up I Never Learn. It's the starkest song on the record with Li backed by just a guitar and some keys for most it. It's a desperate plea for stillness with Li singing, "So come lay/And wait, now won't you lay." The version on the record goes for over 6-minutes but this live version chops it down a little without losing any of its effectiveness.
Get Some (Live On Conan)
Hearing Get Some live felt like a reckoning. It's hard to translate that to television but she nailed it on Conan. The drums rollick and pound as Li gives a rock solid performance. She somehow manages to remain stern while throwing down some of her best moves. Special shoutout goes to the performer on the tamborine wearing a very large black hat.
I Follow Rivers (MTV Unplugged)
Li performed an iconic MTV Unplugged set in 2011, pairing back the album. I Follow Rivers is the most upbeat moment on the album but here it becomes murky and elongated. It's those little moments of silence that really take it to another level. It often feels like Li is able to stop time with that voice surrounded by nothing.