‘I Never Learn’ Reviewed: It’s Lykke Li’s Party, and She’ll Cry If She Wants To

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Welcome back, Lykke Li. A personal favourite of this writer, there was much squee-ing when Li began releasing tracks in preparation for her third studio album. ‘Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone’ and ‘No Rest for the Wicked’ became instant favourites, due to their catchy doom and gloom melodies. It was nice to see that Li had resisted the current trend of everyone releasing club hits (though I’m not sure how she would even go about that) and kept to her trademark simplistic musical backdrops. There’s still the bombastic-ness of her sophomore effort Wounded Rhymes, but its quieter, more subdued. Li has had a hell of a time since we last saw her, and we’re going to hear all about it.

 

There’s a bittersweet and tragic air that hangs over the album like the black veils Li found for her atmospheric album cover; imagine a whole album in the same vein as Wounded Rhymes’ ‘Sadness is a Blessing’, and you have I Never Learn. It’s maudlin, its miserable, but the most part of its pretty damn good. The title track starts quite quietly, but brings in strings to great effect and builds to a very hummable climax. There’s a temptation for singer-songwriters to let their voices get all the best riffs, but on ‘I Never Learn’ its the strings that really shine. There’s something delightfully retro about the best songs – from the 70’s feel of ‘I Never Learn’ to the so-90’s-power-ballad-that-it-comes-out-the-other-side-and-is-quite-alright of ‘Never Gonna Love Again’.

 

I Never Learn serves quite well as a less scenery chewing sister to Wounded Rhymes, or as an alternative soundtrack to Let the Right One In. With as much misery as there is on offer, it does wilt in places, and the relentless sorrow becomes a little dull at times, no matter how often choirs are thrown at the proceedings to give it a little extra wham. It’s to the album’s credit that it holds it together as much as it does – even though it feels like the album trails off rather than ends, most of it works. This much wallowing should not be this much fun, but it is.

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Music On The Go: “Chandelier” By Sia

Pick a song, any song, in the charts and you can bet your bottom dollar that Sia Furler had something to do with the production of that track! Her songwriting credentials range from Britney to Rihanna. She’s been revamping their genre and giving them hit after hit. Now it’s her turn!

“Chandelier” is an epic pop ballad about releasing yourself to the night when you have a broken heart and swinging from the ceiling because that’s just how Sia rolls! It’s been a good four years since she last got her solo on and I couldn’t be more excited. The time has come for her to step out of Beyonce’s shadow and become a hit maker herself! Good for you, Sia! You go, Sia!

Music On The Go: “Workin’ Woman Blues” by Valerie June

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Valerie June has my attention. She’s a singer from the Memphis music scene, who last year released the critically acclaimed album, “Pushin’ Against a Stone”, which got everyone pretty excited with collaborations from Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys and the legendary Booker T. Jones.

June brings a raw, country sound to the table and what can I say? I’m a sucker for a woman with a story in her song, and the single “Workin’ Woman Blues” is a track you can’t let go. It’s Americana that has all the feeling of blues, but none of the baggage. Yet, the one thing you can’t ignore, which ties up the track are her harrowing vocals. As soon as she opens the line, “I ain’t fit to be no mother, I ain’t fit to be no wife,” you are gripped and taken somewhere else that isn’t a rainy day in England.

“Workin’ Woman Blues” is necessary for a music listener on-the-go, as it’s a track you can either chill out to on a lazy afternoon or put on before a Saturday night.

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Beyoncé… I was not ready

The Queen of Pop Beyoncé surprised fans all over the world last night when her self-titled album (that no one was expecting) dropped on iTunes… the BeyHive is in overdrive and the internet is possibly broken. You can’t go on iTunes and not see her face (check it if you want, I’ll be here waiting) and why?  Because we weren’t ready. And she’s so nonchalant about it. “Suprise” and then she goes back to instagramming pictures of vegan cupcakes… I just… I can’t deal.

 I don’t need to tell you that I bought the album, you can probably tell I have.

Currently on The Mrs. Carter Tour, where did she have the time to write, record and create accompanying videos for each and every one of the 14 songs on the album with extras!? 14 songs. 17 videos. £12.99 on iTunes…  There was no promo. The closest thing to promotion for this album was the samples of new songs used in advertisments for Pepsi and H&M. Beyoncé was on her hustle, they were basically paying her for them to promote her album (that no one was expecting). And for someone who’s constantly in the public eye surrounded by people who would benefit from leaking information, you’ve got to respect her for her level of secrecy that even the US government is unable to achieve.

All Hail King Bey!

The album is star-studded with featuring artists of Drake, Frank Ocean, Jay-Z and Blue Ivy makes her second feature on a song in the track Blue. We get unexpected appearances from Kelly and Michelle again (Superbowl 2013 flashbacks anyone?) as well as from the lovely mother Tina Knowles in the visual accompiament. Rap artists from Houstan Texas also feature in the videos as the Queen pays homage to her home town.

 There is a song on this album for every emotion, role and action of Beyoncé as a black woman. Yes I’m going to say a black woman, lets be honest here feminism often feels like its struggling with intersectionality in almost the same way as the coven and voodoos in American Horror Story: Coven. Like Destiny Child’s Survivor was a message (to either ex-members or the media, depending on which rumour you heard), this entire visual album is a calling out of critics and a rallying cry for general female excellence that Lady Gaga, Lily Allen, Katy Perry, Britney, Miley who are constantly praised for their interpreted feminist sometimes problematic actions (especially when it comes to women of colour) can only hope to achieve.

To all those who opposed Beyoncé as a non-feminist please take several seats. Not only are your arguments invalid in every way, shape and form imaginable. Beyoncé’s song Bow Down which caused a stir earlier in the year due to the use of ‘bitches’, has been transformed with a dirty hood beat with all the swagger and bravado of gangsta rap that black female rappers are famed for. Add a sample from Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s speech on feminism and why everyone should be a feminist and you now have the womanist anthem ***Flawless. Please tell me how Bey isn’t a feminist? Please, tell me again?

Wife, mother, single lady on a night out, sensual lover, sexual being, emotional soul, hard working artist, the mourner, the believer; there is a song for all of these parts of womanhood that seemingly contradict each other are embraced and interweave depending on situation or emotion. It’s almost as though she’s recognising all the conflicting and unique experiences that all women because we’re multi-faceted 3D people and not the fake, air-brushed 2D caricatures we are force-fed by the media on the daily.

As for me? Well I’m getting all these vibes from the album, my only fault was Jay-Z’s reference to the abusive Ike/Tina relationship. But other than that? It’s like travelling through every scattered thought in my brain Beyoncé has successfully located and ordered. She has successfully turned me into a stan. I don’t care. This whole album is a giant motivator and a confidence booster.

And well, if you’re mad from all the virtual ink Beyoncé is generating?

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Music On The Go: “Team” By Lorde

She’s divided opinions and James Arthur from the top of the UK Single Charts but I can’t help but love Lorde. She’s been killing it this year with her song “Royals” and her new track “Team” is seriously kick ass as well!

An electrohop attack on the big bad cities and overrated artists “Team” is the third single from her Pure Heroine album and the video is truly something as well. Consisting of a world of teenagers living in ruined buildings and North Face coats, Lorde rocks some serious braids whilst people get knocked over on bikes. My description really doesn’t do it justice… Either way, it’s a killer track from a truly killer artist! Enjoy!

What We REALLY Love This Week… Lily Allen’s Return!

Say what you want about Lily Allen because she ain’t listening! For too long we have had silence on her end whilst she got married had babies and recorded Keane songs for sad/happy John Lewis adverts. But now she’s back!

“Hard Out Here” is the first track from her third album and I really don’t want to oversell this but IT’S FUCKING AMAZING! It’s a song about women in the media getting things done without a penis and there is a delicious sight of her crotch-grabbing in a Nicki Minaj-esque video. It really is hard out here for a bitch (her words, not mine!) but not for Miss Allen, she’s the business!

Music On The Go: “Things Can Only Happen” By Russian Red

Now I’m not going to pretend that I know everything about Spanish music because I would be lying and I have too much respect for this blog’s audience. But what I do know is that Russian Red is a Spanish folky type artist with an interesting sound.

“Things Can Only Change” is a cute live performance featuring only the artist, firework-esque noises in the background and a sample of Russian Red speaking her lovely native tongue. I don’t know what’s going on with this song but what I do know is that I like It and I hope you guys will too!