Lykke Li and Angel Olsen: New songs for old heartaches

Lykke Li’s beautiful, confessional new album I Never Learn (2014) got me thinking about love songs, and more specifically, songs about heartache. It feels like every song is about falling in or out of love, so what new ground is there to cover? And in the rare occurrence that an artist truly channels that age-old feeling, what makes their song so therapeutic?

iTunes Session, Lykke Li
Lykke Li

Li’s album came out this Tuesday and is a visceral, soul-filled album. Li’s voice trembles and belts; her emotions are restrained, but so palpably strong that we can smell heartbreak coming out of the stereo. Lykke Li got famous off of tribal, pop songs such as “Get Some” and “Little Bit” and she has transferred that animalistic energy over to singer-songwriter ballads for I Never Learn, where her emotions feel so fervent and heartfelt they become universal. Heartache may not be new territory, but it is Li’s uncomfortable sincerity and expert restraint (you can feel her choking back sorrow on “Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone,” and that lack of complete vulnerability feels more grounded in reality)  sets this album apart.

Tracks You Need To Hear: “I Never Learn,” “Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone,” and “Never Gonna Love Again”

Music blog Consequence of Sound compares Lykke Li’s I Never Learn to Angel Olsen’s album Burn Your Fire For No Witness (2014) which came out this February. Olsen approaches music with the same terrifyingly authentic mix of armor and vulnerability. The strongest thing about Olsen and Li’s albums is the intimacy the artists create. It is hard to feel as though you’ve really gotten to know an artist through their song, but Li and Olsen invite us into their souls via these albums. 

Tracks You Need to Hear: “Forgiven/Forgotten,” “Enemy,” and “White Fire”