I Turn My Camera On: Lykke Li

On Sunday night I went to see [Name Redacted]. As you can see by the pictures linked in there (here if you're lazy), that band's lead singer kind of looks like George "the Animal" Steele. Our intrepid, Leafblowin' photographer Kyle Gustafson opted to check out upstart 22-year-old Swedish singer Lykke Li at the Black Cat. She photographs a bit better, I'd say. And she's not a bad performer, either, at least according to Steve Kiviat, who reviewed the show for the paper. And it's copied here, too. The City Paper's Black Plastic Bag has some more pictures, if you just want to spend all afternoon looking at photos of a young Swedish singer.


From Abba to the Cardigans, Robyn and others, Sweden has established a reputation for producing sweetly tuneful melodic pop performers. The latest, though not as polished, is 22-year-old Lykke Li, who was at the Black Cat on Sunday night with a three-piece band.


Li co-wrote the music on her debut, "Youth Novels," with Bjorn Yttling, and the disc reflects some of the catchiness that his Swedish group, Peter Bjorn and John, delivered on the Internet fave "Young Folks." But thanks to Yttling's minimalistic production, Li's little-girl-sounding vocals and a mix of drum programming with strings, the album's take on Northern European bounciness is a bit more art-school.


At the Black Cat, Li immediately demonstrated that she would not simply stand at the mike and coo her twee tales. Banging a drumstick against a tambourine and the drummer's cymbal, she jumped around during opener "Dance, Dance, Dance." The band's well-sung backing vocals ironically demonstrated the drawback to Li's approach: Her singing was deeper and more forceful than on disc, but an occasionally strained quality and her slurred Scandinavian-accented English did not always aid her clever arrangements.


Yet it was hard not to be enchanted by much of the performance. She added intricate hand-clap patterns to "Hanging High," and on the upbeat "Breaking It Up," she enthusiastically chanted her vocals through a megaphone. Li exuberantly closed with a cover of A Tribe Called Quest's "Can I Kick It," cleverly having the audience hum the song's Lou Reed sample, and then raggedly but joyously leading the rap portion herself.
--Steve Kiviat

By David Malitz |  October 21, 2008; 1:48 PM ET Pictures
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