Live Review: Lykke Li at the 9:30 Club, 5-15-11

Obviously, my attention has been turned towards the Finns these days, but if anyone is going to turn my attention towards other things Scandinavian, it’s surely going to be my favorite Swede, Lykke Li, returning to the States to tour her latest album. Now, i don’t know about you, but for the most part, Wounded Rhymes has fallen pretty flat for me. Too many ballads, not enough groovers and an overall sense of sophomore slump seem to pervade her latest. The great thing about an LL concert, however, is the live energy she brings to a show. Having seen her twice before to tour Youth Novels, i knew her to be a fiery performer, hewing closer to hip hop star than indie chanteuse.

This tour is not much different than the last in that sense–LL still brings a different energy not heard on the album itself. Unfortunately, the newer sound did little to illuminate the newer material. With her and the entire band dressed in black and surrounded by enough smoke machines to not even realize there were seven people on stage until at least the third or fourth song, the groove seldom swirled above the melancholy slow jam. Sure, the audience went bananas whenever they played older tracks, but seemed somewhere between confused and disinterested by the rest. Immediately following “Dance Dance Dance,” she admonished the crowd for not taking the lyrics to heart. My immediate thought was, well, quit playing so many damn slow songs, and maybe the crowd will free its mind long enough for its ass to follow.

Whereas the Youth Novels tour had a decidedly hip hop vibe, this one actually feels more like a Euro-techno show, with two synths, two percussionists, a back-up singer and bassist. There also was a fair amount of pre-recorded vocals, but fortunately not overwhelmingly so. The show was mainly new stuff (I Follow Rivers, Unrequited Love, Get Some, Rich Kid Blues), but did have some older beasts, too (the aforementioned DDD, Little Bit). Now, LL admitted to have “husky voice” problems towards the very end, but it seemed more of an “energy/vibe” issue than physical problems. i would wager that she got used to the growing adoration her first shows afforded her, but wasn’t quite ready to deal with the less than successful follow-up. If no one knows the words to anything but the old songs, you might need to rethink the show. i’m just saying.

Of course, i’d personally go to see Lykke sell car insurance, but i dig Scandinavians, so what can you do?

mp3: Little Bit (live) (Lykke Li, live on WXPN 5/29/2008)

mp3: Dance Dance Dance (live) (Lykke Li, live on WXPN 5/29/2008)

mp3: Can I Kick It? (Tribe Called Quest cover) (Lykke Li from some London gig)

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