Lykke Li

Brix­ton Acad­emy, Lon­don

The Guardian - G2 - - Live Reviews - Han­nah J Davies

Si­grid, MØ, Alma, Tove Lo: Scan­dipop is in ex­cel­lent health in 2018. And hap­pily there’s still space for its 90s and 00s pro­gen­i­tors, among them the still-reign­ing Robyn, Lit­tle Dragon and Lykke Li, who re­leased her first record a decade ago. The Swedish singer has since re­leased three more al­bums of in­tro­spec­tive pop, and ex­panded into swag­ger­ing R&B and trap on her lat­est, this year’s So Sad So Sexy.

At her first Lon­don show in four years, the stage is bathed in scar­let light, with a gi­gan­tic tri­an­gle and Li’s eyes on the back­drop. Dressed top to toe in PVC and wield­ing a tam­bourine, she is a strik­ing fig­ure, and is soon pro­pel­ling her­self around, stag­ing a dance break and ex­plain­ing her crotch-grab­bing chore­og­ra­phy to the crowd as she struts pur­pose­fully.

There’s space for a clutch of tracks from 2014’s bal­ladeer­ing I Never Learn, but largely the fo­cus is on her lat­est work. Not that the show is one-note: the bom­bas­tic club vibes and syn­co­pated strobes dur­ing Deep End con­trast with a near-a cap­pella ver­sion of Bad Woman, dur­ing which her band re­treat into the shad­ows.

If Li’s pat­ter of­ten feels generic (there are lots of ap­peals for the crowd to dance) then the show is the op­po­site, as she segues with ease and power from swelling beats to quasi-rap to torch songs, and even a hushed cover of Usher’s U Got It Bad. Its ad­mis­sion that “I’ve been there, done it, fucked around … no­body wants to be alone” feels right at home along­side her own songs.

Li’s sound is more main­stream and di­vi­sive than ever, cloaked in oc­ca­sion­ally over­bear­ing per­cus­sion and the odd awk­ward ap­peal to her “bae”. Yet it re­tains the heavy emo­tive core that’s threaded through­out her past decade’s work: on Bet­ter Alone, her new­found met­tle meets stir­ring har­monies, fus­ing past and pre­sent.

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