The Swedish-bred Lykke Li has an incomparable way of conveying her self-reflecting lyrics on I Never Learn, her third and final installment in what she describes as a trilogy about the whirlwind emotions of a young woman. As was the case for her previous two albums, I Never Learn lets listeners intimately peek inside the mind of one of the most quintessential contemporary, indie soul-pop singers today.
Showing that she doesn’t need some sort of complex instrumental setup to shine, the title track is heavily rooted in melodic guitar strokes and Li’s harmonious vocal talents. The song is a hauntingly personal view. “I lie here like a starless lover. I’ll die here as your phantom lover,” Li sings. On “No Rest For the Wicked,” a wholesome representation of simplistic designs with a catchy flare, Li keeps true to classical music traditions by leaning towards the always-powerful instrumentation of a punchy percussion beat or the hypnotic strokes of the piano instead of synthesized electronic elements.
A captivatingly raw moment on I Never Learn comes on the first single, “Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone,” a heart wrenching song desperately pleading for the love of others. Like most of her songs, this one has an air of authenticity that lends the track a deep-rooted emotional draw emanating at its best when she sings, “Even though it hurts, even though it scars. Love me when it storms, love me when I fall. Every time it breaks, every time it’s torn.” At this point, it should be cleat that those looking for an upbeat, cheerful music experience may want to stray away from the emotionally drenched collection of songs on I Never Learn.
“Gunshot” speaks from a grief-stricken personal experience about Li’s complete loss of hope in love, which speaks volumes when her voice resonates the simplistic phrase “I’ll never get you back.“ On the penultimate track, “Heart of Steel,” she sticks with her minimalist intuition by keeping the instrumentals to a select few, but she also takes advantage of a backing choir for that full-bodied, transcendent atmosphere some of her other songs lack. Finishing off the three chapters of introspective soul-searching is “Sleeping Alone,” a closing power ballad of intimacy and tremendous sadness.
It doesn’t take much from Lykke Li’s songs to get you thinking about the issues deep-seated in your relationships. Her personal struggles in love make for an alluring glimpse at what we hope our life doesn’t become. With this closing chapter of an emotional young woman finding her path, there is a welcoming and hopeful chance that her next record won’t be so heavyhearted.