By Justin Lyons; photos by Matthew Smith
Lykke Li’s transformation from curious and blooming songsbird to take-charge chanteuse over the past few years was on great display at Buckhead Theatre on Sunday night. Li’s latest album, Wounded Rhymes, brushes aside all of the come-ons and questions from her debut Youth Novels and transitions to actions and sexual prowess. After a three-year hiatus, the maturation is welcome and Lykke Li’s strongest material to date.
Full gallery of pictures at the bottom of the post.
Fans who came to Buckhead Theatre early witnessed charming up-and-coming act First Aid Kit. The fellow Swedes drifted between folk rock and alt-country in showcasing new material from upcoming album The Lion’s Roar. The sister duo beautifully harmonized and tossed their lengthy locks on heavy set closer and the album’s title track.
While Wounded Rhymes isn’t a particularly dark album, Li’s second release does carry an angry edge that aptly displays her confident and aggressive new outlook. Certainly one of the more theatrical indie shows touring in 2011, the dimly lit stage was draped in three hanging skinny black sheets. The performance kicked off with an eerie sound effect-filled intro with fog and flashing strobe lights as the four-piece band assembled. Adorned in black fabric of her own, Li erupted with powerful rendition of “Jerome” before diving into Novels dance ready favorite “I’m Good I’m Gone.”
Throughout the night, Li demonstrated confidence and pride, clearly embracing her role as an assertive songstress and bandleader while slithering around the stage. As if two drummers weren’t enough, she commanded a side drum and cymbal, which punctuated songs like thumping female anthem “Get Some” and endearing proclamation “I Follow Rivers.” “Youth Knows No Pain” shined with synth-inspired organ and interestingly included a segment backed by Kanye West’s “Power” instrumental. As she shouted the final bars into a megaphone, you could almost feel her Kanye-like confidence build.
Standout performances of the night were breakout hit “Little Bit,” which inspired a crowd sing-along and “Silent My Song.” First Aid Kit joined Li for vocal harmonies on “Song” and strengthened an already hypnotizing track. Melodies, thundering drum, electric organ and moaning vocal effects sounded like a spellbinding command. Encore “Unrequited Love” underlined a night that displayed Lykke Li’s growth and assurance as she belted every line knowing she owned the room.