Lykke Li’s ‘so sad so sexy’ Is Meant for More Than Crying in the Club




Right before Lykke Li’s so sad so sexy album came out, I started reading What’s Love (or Care, Intimacy, Warmth, Affection) Got to Do with It?. The 2017 e-flux journal is a collection of entries that touch on love in the current sociopolitical climate written by a variety of authors. One of the pieces that really grabbed my attention was Brian Kuan Wood’s “Is It Love”. The essay touches on the concept of love as a means of exchange and capital market as well as the burden of emotional labor. “Today it has become disturbingly easy to confuse stress and exhaustion with love,” he writes. “This can be attributed to the sheer amount of energies being exchanged that prey upon emotional responses.”

Lykke Li’s record covers many of the same elements that are presented in this book. In the four year gap between so sad so sexy and I Never Learn, the world has changed drastically for the Swedish singer. During the hiatus, she co-launched a Mezcal brand, formed a supergroup called LIV, and became a mother before her own passed away. Lykke Li’s music has always embodied different aspects of sadness in relation to love, but there’s a darker energy on this album that wasn’t present before.

so sad so sexy shows Lykke Li throwing caution to the wind as she dives head (and heart) first into new territory. This stage of her sonic evolution is interesting, as she collaborates with a mixture of artists that have been occupying their own lanes like Skrillex, Rostam, Jeff Bhasker, T-Minus, and Emile Haynie. Portland rapper Aminé is the only feature on the record and masterfully blends in with the album’s aesthetic. The production on every track is flawless, so Lykke Li is able to rise to the surface at her most vulnerable like an open wound ready to heal.

“hard rain” formally introduces us to Lykke Li’s brave, new world as the album opener. The Rostam-produced track contextualizes the strains of trying to fix a relationship that is beyond repair and flirts with elements of synth pop and post-dubstep. The intro sounds like a siren going off as Lykke Li repeats the line “If you like the feeling of a hard rain falling/ I have a seafull, I can give you an ocean.” It rings like a warning to the masses of the incoming flood of emotions.