Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Rate The Albums: Kanye West

Continuing my recently revived Rate The Albums feature, I'll be taking a look at another act that's set to hit Dublin soon, the endlessly creative and controversial Kanye West. Anyone who has followed my writing over the past few years will know my opinion on the man- beginning with The College Dropout in 2004 all the way up to Yeezus last year (which I named album of 2013 in December), West has been nothing short of consistently groundbreaking, an artist operating on his own level for the past decade and innovating the genre of hip-hop quite like no one before or since. If you follow that line of thought then you'll agree that the 7 albums below are to be counted among the finest releases of the 21st century, but how exactly do they rank from worst to best? Here's the countdown:

7. 808's & Heartbreak (2008)

808's is perhaps the most misunderstood of West's output over the last 10 years. An experimental project steeped in auto tune and lacking in rap verses, 808's & Heartbreak was the result of a tragic year in the life of its creator, who had lost his mother and gone through a major relationship break up before the recording process began. When it dropped in 2008, reception was polarized with several critics complementing the innovative style and others dismissing it for the same reason. 808's has gone on to shape the careers of major artists such as Drake, The Weeknd and Frank Ocean, and public opinion has eased up on the record in the last few years due to it's increasingly pronounced legacy and influence. In site of this factor though, it must be said that Kanye's 4th album is certainly his least prolific.

Best Tracks: Say You Will/Welcome To Heartbreak/Heartless

6. Watch The Throne (2011)

When Kanye and Jay Z finally teamed up for a full length project in 2011 it was obviously going to be epic, and the resulting album delivered a hyperactive celebration of both rappers lifestyles as they indulged in their respective talents with a series of perfectly executed tales of wealth, prestige and glory. There's an argument to be made that West outshined his mentor over the course of the record when Kanye's production is considered on top of his impassioned verses but whether you're more of a Ye or Jay fan is irrelevant in the end- Watch The Throne is straight up entertainment for all fans of hip-hop, and a celebration of the culture and success of the rap movement by two of it's greatest ever.

Best Tracks: No Church In The Wild/Niggas In Paris/Murder To Excellence

5. Graduation (2007)

Graduation was a watershed moment for hip-hop in many ways; as the subject of a much publicized sales battle with 50 Cent due to the a coinciding release date with his third effort Curtis, Kanye's completion of his college trilogy is now recognized as an altering moment for the rap landscape as fans set record breaking album sale statistics upon its release, confirming that gangsta rap was dying and conscious rap was growing like never before. This is reflected today in the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Drake and an endless sea of like minded artists, many of whom were hugely influenced by the sound, style and themes of Kanye's original trio of albums and for this reason alone, Graduation stands as one of the rapper's most significant achievements to date.

Best Tracks: Stronger/Good Life/Can't Tell Me Nothing

4. The College Dropout (2004)

Kanye started work on his debut album all the way back in 1999, and before its eventual release in 2004 had received a sort of recognition for production on The Blueprint by Jay Z in 2001. When it finally dropped it was clear to the rap world that this was the arrival of a significant talent, although the true scale of greatness that West was to achieve was yet to unfold. These 21 tracks showcased a rapper who was hungry for fame and success yet desperate also to convey a message of social inequality and paint a picture of struggle and morality that he perhaps hasn't captured as vividly since Late Registration just a year later. Kicking off a trio of albums that would steal the world's attention with their thoughtful yet abrasive nature, The College Dropout remains one of the finest rap albums of the past decade without doubt,and is rightfully still counted among Kanye's greatest releases.

Best Tracks: All Falls Down/Slow Jamz/School Spirit

3. Yeezus (2013)

Last summer, Yeezus blasted by in 40 minutes of mercilessly gripping noise that melted the brain and shocked the senses without apology as it pinned you back against the hardcore wall of noise that served as the backdrop to Kanye’s maddening raps, which took his ferocious ego to the next level.

The sense of chaos that Yeezus instils in the listener is representative of West’s restless artistic vision, something which, truly for the first time, he refused to hone or filter, allowing a total explosion of noise that symbolized a brief glimpse into the mind of a self-confessed mad man. The fact that this is currently the standing point of Kanye's discography after 10 years shows exactly how progressive and unique West has been since day one, and if Yeezus is anything to go by, then there's at least another decade to come from its artist, and we may just be at the beginning of a period of further exploration and innovation in the music industry.

Best Tracks: New Slaves/Blood On The Leaves/Bound 2

2. Late Registration (2005)

The magnum opus of Kanye's college trilogy was perhaps the first moment when it became clear that the industry was not dealing with an ordinary rapper or musician, but one who could potentially shape a landscape for the future of the business. With its flawless production and addressing of social matters in an even deeper and more engaged manner than before, Late Registration came at a time when rap music was in a kind of limbo and it paved the way for the sounds we're hearing from a range of incredible artists today in 2014.

On top of the depth already described was the fact that this was an album stacked from head to toe in sensational pop music and late Registration spawned without doubt the finest selection of singles taken from a Kanye album bar none- ''Heard 'Em Say'', ''Touch The Sky'', ''Gold Digger'' and ''Diamonds From Sierra Leone'' sent mainstream audiences crazy worldwide while further inside the industry critics universally proclaimed genius for tracks like the astoundingly beautiful ''Hey Mama'' and triumphant finale ''Gone''. Late Registration marked the true arrival of Kanye West with a then definitive, almost unbeatable record.

Best Tracks: Touch The Sky/Hey Mama/Gone

1. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)

Just six years ago Kanye West’s next move was near impossible to predict following the problematic release of 808’s & Heartbreak, as detailed above. The polarized reception of that record meant that for some, West’s moment at the top was coming to an undignified end, and how easy it would have been for him to slip into a downward spiral of releases, and settle into a legacy that would already have been classed as legendary for his original trio of classic albums.

Instead he returned with his magnum opus and possibly the greatest album of the 21st century with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, an exquisite blend of pop, rock and hip-hop music that can stand alongside any great popular musical achievement since the 1950’s. With Dark Fantasy, Kanye came as close as possible to perfection on an album that stuns and amazes from first second to last, as West explores an excessive range of genres and subjects over the course of 68 minutes that makes essential listening for every modern music fan.

Dark Fantasy is Kanye at his most ambitious and extravagant (and considering the outrageous ego of the man that's quite a statement indeed), making the result an work of such grand scale and maximilism that it's noticeably difficult to capture the triumphant nature of it through written word. Instead you'd be better off pressing play and letting an album of such magnificence take you on a musical journey for the ages. Put simply, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a moment of utter perfection not only for Kanye West but hip-hop and all music itself. It's the reason we listen to and love artists who create challenging, inspiring and affecting music, and nobody in the world right now is doing it better than Kanye West.

Best Tracks: POWER/All Of The Lights/Runaway

Next: The Arcade Fire

Friday, 20 June 2014

''The Moon Rang Like A Bell'' Hundred Waters - A Review

Hundred Waters self titled 2012 debut was an impressive fusion of acoustic and electronic music that resulted in critics coining the terms 'folktronica' and 'digital folk' due to the band's unique balance of the two genres. The Moon Rang Like A Bell sees the four piece return with the warranted expectation that their sophomore effort should see them develop their engaging sound further, although throughout it seems as though Hundred Waters are leaning specifically toward one side of their original favourited styles.

The album begins with short opening piece ''Show Me Love'', a vocal exercise for frontman Nicole Minglis before ''Murmurs'' gently soothes the listener into the album with an almost R&B vibe and the incredible voice of Minglis, a constant factor in proceedings just as it was on the bands debut. The synths are then revealed for ''Cavity'', ''Out Alee'' and ''Innocent'' which all retain a shimmering, blissed out electro vibe before the midsection is slowed down in mournful tones by ''Broken Blue'', a low tempo, wallowing piano track that alongside ''Chambers'' creates a haunted, darkened middle. On ''Chambers'', as well as ''Down From The Rafters'', Hundred Waters start to show off some of their influences with a strong Sigur Ros comparison emanating from the band as Minglis shows off a Jonsi like vocal that's backed by droning organ atmospherics.

The band are back to enjoying themselves on ''[Animal]'', a bouncing, playful synth track that leads into the closing stages of the album where the band utilize piano/keyboards to great effect on ''Seven White Horses'' and ''Xtalk'' before ''No Sound'' finishes the 48 minute tracklist with a gentle soundscae that washes along to the close.

Following Hundred Waters in 2012, the most obvious comparison to make was Akron/Family, an experimental acoustic act that have spent the best part of the 21 century trying to rearrange traditional folk music into something more strange, and while in many ways Hundred Waters picked up where Ak left off, they seem to be content to drop their acoustics here in favour of electro textures rather than balancing the two. This is disappointing in some respects given the truly unique sound of the band's admittedly more intriguing debut, but on a positive note The Moon Rang Like A Bell sounds like Hundred Waters becoming more comfortable with who they are and the music they are trying to create, and if they can produce a more familiar sounding version of electronica of this quality on a regular basis from here on out then really, there's little room for complaint.


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

''A U R O R A'' Ben Frost - A Review

Australian composer and avant-garde musician Ben Frost has found underground success on Icelandic label Bedroom Community over the past decade while releasing film soundtracks on the side, but on A U R O R A Frost is leaving his strings and orchestral arrangements aside for a trippy electronic experiment that is never straightforward.

Things kick off with ''Flex'', an unsettling, rising beat that leads into the dangerously intense soundscape of ''Nolan'', a track of hypnotic ferocity that threatens to melt your brain before it thankfully cools into a somewhat smoother outro. From there comes the contrasting ''Teeth'', a hissed, near silent track that feels necessary after the burnout your mind will still be experience from the previous 7 minute storm of the second track, but Frost doesn't stay quiet for long as ''Secant'' reveals itself to be another acid inspired freak out which somehow blurs the line between bliss and terror in a manner that needs to be heard to be believed.

On the album's most relatively conventional note and best moment, ''Venter'' starts slowly before building on it's light percussion by carefully lacing church bells together with the kind of feedback sound that seems to permeate the entire record, before the track descends into what could only be described as music you would imagine a species from another planet may dance to. Taken as a whole, ''Venter'' demonstrates the greatest balance of all Frost's surreal instrumentation with standard conventions and showcases how effective the artist can be when meshing his style with traditional music rather than trying to make our eardrums bleed (see ''Nolan'' and ''Secant'', tracks so heavy that they share a greater relationship with thrash metal than any kind of dance form).

Further on the track list, ''No Sorrowing'' is another example of less is more with a single synth dominating the track, and while ''Sola Fide'' is similarly all consuming to earlier instances of heavy electronica, it's a more pleasant, somewhat lighter experience than the others. Continuing the mild outro, at least by Frost's standards, is closer ''A Single Point Of Blinding Light'' which comes off sounding like a laser show but in a warm, almost playful ending.

On your completion of A U R O R A you should be suitably exhausted by the mind altering nature of these 9 highly intense tracks, but whether the mind numbing quality of these 40 minutes is a positive or negative element depends entirely on your own interpretation. If you want an experience akin to a horror film or hallucinogenic drug then strap in and lose yourself to Ben Frost, but for the music fan more concerned with melody and emotion rather than effect, Frost's extremities can seem provocative rather than purposeful.


Thursday, 12 June 2014

Snoop Dogg at The Academy (11/6/14) - A Review

Following a thankfully brief time where Calvin Broadus decided he wanted to create reggae music and began referring to himself as Snoop Lion, he's back to his old self as the gin and juice sippin' pimp we all came to know and love over the past two decades, and it was in his original persona that Snoop visited The Academy last night for what would best be described as a greatest hits tour.

After a lengthy warm up by the touring band and DJ who blared classics like ''California Love'' and ''Still D.R.E'', we're finally graced with the rapper's presence for a reggae opener taken from his most recent project before ''Tha Shiznit'' gets the house jumping to really set things off as Snoop delivered his sensationally laid back flow over a 90's Dre beat (in spite of it suffering from slightly poor sound quality, an issue throughout). There's a mix of tracks over the course of Snoop's introduction, showcasing a range of sides to the legendary figure, from the funky R&B of ''Up's & Down's'', 213 track ''I'm Fly'', a 50 Cent cover of ''P.I.M.P'' that goes that down predicatbly well with the crowd and new chart favourite collaboration with Jason Derulo ''Wiggle''. Snoop was made by his extraordinary flow and gangsta rap persona though, and it's these tracks that genuine fans will have come to see- ''Lodi Dodi'' is an excellent out take from 1991 debut (and best record by a mile) Doggystyle while ''Gin And Juice'' is an obvious highlight of the night, but it becomes increasingly clear over the course of the set that many of the fans in attendance aren't exactly hip hop connoisseurs, with a waning response to rap classics that deserve the biggest pop.

At several times throughout the night there are telling signs of the kind of songs that these fans want to hear, and Snoop obliges them with his features on the likes of Katy Perry's ''California Girls'' and David Guetta's ''Wet'' before even subjecting us to a ludicrous cover of Britney Spears' ''I Love Rock'n'Roll''. These chart hits go down a treat with the audience but they're certainly alienating to the hardcore rap fan who has actually followed Snoop's discography rather than a number of features that were by and large a cash in for Broadus. It's a credit to Snoop's persona though that he keeps both sides interested with his call and response techniques that bring the crowd into each tune, and there are plenty of compromises to be had song wise too, with ''The Next Episode'' bringing the house down in the moment of the night before the set is ended with a feel good element by ''Young, Wild & Free'' and Bob Marley's ''Jammin''.

Ultimately it was a strange kind of night in the Academy, and perhaps a telling one for the rap star who seems to be settling down into middle age and enjoying his fame with chart success and major exposure coming over the more substance filled rap of his 90's career. While it may have been a night more suited to the casual fan, there was enough rap highlights taken from Snoop's lengthy career to pull it through, and this showcase of the path of Calvin Broadus can be summarized best the same way his music career can; perhaps a little inconsistent, without a doubt entertaining, and always incredibly fun.


Thursday, 5 June 2014

Rate The Albums: Arctic Monkeys

I'm bringing back an old feature of mine for summer 2014 as I take a look at some of my favourite artists and rank their discography from best to worst. My previous lists are still available to view on the site- they include Bright Eyes, Elliott Smith, Death Cab For Cutie and Bloc Party.

I'm kicking off things with one of the biggest bands in the world right now, who are set to hit Dublin in just over a weeks time, Sheffield's finest export Arctic Monkeys. Since arriving in style with the fastest selling debut album in British history back in 2006, the band have continually evolved throughout the course of their 5 studio releases with varying results. Last year's AM was celebrated as perhaps the peak of the group's powers as they topped various Best Of 2013 lists and walked away with numerous awards both at home and abroad for their work, but is it in fact the band's greatest moment? Here's my own countdown:

5. Suck It And See (2011)

The band's fourth album is perhaps their most overlooked- from the nearly blank cover and lack of major promotion to it's straightforward vintage rock style, Suck It And See seemed to be released with more of a whimper than a bang. Perhaps these reasons have led to the record earning dubious honour of being the Monkeys most underrated too, and unfairly so- standing at just 40 minutes short, Suck It is indeed a minimized, simpler rock release than the rest of the band's catalogue but it's also a wonderfully smooth, assured collection of classic rock'n'roll songs that hinted towards the style Alex Turner and the lads would embrace on AM last year with greater conviction and purpose.

Best Tracks: She's Thunderstorms/Black Treacle/The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala

4. Humbug (2009)

In contrast to Suck It, the release of Humbug in 2009 was met with strong interest for it's controversial departure from the signature sound that the Sheffield band utilized so effectively on their initial album duo. In truth though, this was the sound of a band maturing with a confident and fearless attitude, and while Humbug is far from the Arctics best work, it deserves huge praise for shifting the band's tone with skill, allowing them to progress on the records that followed and in their future output, making it a majorly significant moment in the band's discography.

Best Tracks: My Propeller/Crying Lightning/Cornerstone

3. Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007)

Following one of the greatest British debuts of the 21st century is no easy feat, but the band assured doubters that they were the real deal with Favourite Worst Nightmare just a year after their groundbreaking first album. Nightmare showed a greater awareness for melody and developing themes of emotion that were key to its success, as Alex Turner in particular proved he was far more than just a one trick songwriter with tender moments such as ''Only Ones Who Know'' and ''505'' complimenting the usual banger's such as ''Do Me A Favour'' and ''Teddy Picker''. Most impressively, the band's sophomore release avoided any kind of negative comparison with their earlier work while retaining an unmistakably Arctic Monkeys niche that satisfied old fans and won plenty of new followers.

Best Track: Fluorescent Adolescent/Only Ones Who Know/505

2. AM (2013)

Released to the public in September of last year, AM immediately took it's rightful place atop many critics and music fans lists for one of the best albums of the year, and it's no wonder why- it seemed that for all the searching the band had done over the course of Humbug and Suck It they had found a perfected, definitive sound that blended old and new Arctic Monkeys with silky smoothness and undeniable flair. It's a stellar work of music that can be built on, and crucially, feels like it surely will. Perhaps the best thing you could say about AM is that inspires belief that Arctic Monkeys will improve from here, and considering the previous albums mentioned that's quite a statement to make, and a truly exciting prospect.

When asked about the title pre-release, Alex Turner replied with a knowing smile, claiming he'd ripped it from the Velvet Underground's 1985 complilation VU: ''Did we cop out? Yeah, but something about it feels like this record is exactly where we should be right now. So it felt right just to initial it.'' It's an insightful comment, and while he might be laughing at the complacency of those initials himself, in reality, it couldn't have been named anything else.

That old rock'n'roll, eh?

Best Tracks: Do I Wanna Know?/R U Mine?/I Wanna Be Yours

1. Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (2006)

For all the highs and hijinks that have come since, it really would be a major achievement for Arctic Monkeys to ever top their debut album. Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not was hyped like no other album pre-release this decade and it delivered with style and then some on its arrival, landing with a splash that woke the rest of the country and sparked a rock revival similar to The Strokes in America.

The unconventional nature of the band's popularity through online sources such as MySpace was celebrated as a watershed moment in modern music and the significance of that statement is only truly setting in now as we see just how modern audiences have shifted in droves to the internet for their aural intake. But don't let that overshadow the raw brilliance of the music itself- Whatever was packed with the kind of intensity that can only be found in a hungry teenage band like the Monkeys were at the time, and their unsculpted passion resulted in a sound comparable to the Grunge and Britpop movements for its incomparable energy and force.

Buried within the guitars were the words of Alex Turner, bursting with wit, intelligence and an underlying apathy as he examined youth culture and society in Britain through the loose concept of a Saturday night and Sunday morning in Sheffield. The definitive track of the album, and the greatest moment of the band's career comes in ''A Certain Romance'', a tender reminiscence on the teenage years that Turner spent in the English suburbs long before he transformed into the greaser rock star we known him as today.

''There's only music so that there's new ringtones'' he laments about half way through the final track, and it's a painfully accurate description of the British rock music landscape at the time of his writing, before the likes of Arctic Monkeys came along and injected a sorely needed amount of soul into the industry with their brand of post-punk, garage rock on their stunning, and as yet unbeatable debut album.

Best Tracks: A View From The Afternoon/When The Sun Goes Down/A Certain Romance

Next Up: Kanye West

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

''In Conflict'' Owen Pallett - A Review

Owen Pallett is a name that tends to be overlooked when we talk about The Arcade Fire, but the quiet Montreal native's impressive solo output as well as his Oscar nomination alongside Win Butler for Best Score this year would suggest that Pallett is far more than a background character, and in fact a major player within one of greatest band's of this generation. The melodic, expressive string pieces that make up Pallett's first three albums seem to be derived from his criminally unrated orchestral work for the band, and so it follows that Pallett's solo work has so far been a quiet but undeniably quality affair, and one which has drawn critical approval if not commercial success.

Having dropped the Final Fantasy moniker for Heartland in 2010, Pallett is back under his own name for In Conflict, his fourth record and one which interestingly employs the talents of Brian Eno on synth and guitar, suggesting a possible stylistic change for the Canadian, who usually can;t be found without a violin by his side. ''I Am Not Afraid'' opens like standard Pallett but sure enough breaks off for a dreamy synth interlude before linking back up with the rest of the song in a strong intro, while the title track confirms Pallett will be substituting his strings for synths in major parts of the album as warm electronic textures wrap themselves around ''In Conflict'', creating a weird dancey vibe as the track develops with great results. Early highlights such as this are aplenty, with ''Song For Five & Six'' showcasing laser like synths that bury Pallett's vocal underneath a set of sci-fi sounds recalling a male Grimes more than just a little bit.

There are still plenty of string arrangements to go around on tracks like ''On A Path'' which are backed solely by a drum machine and Pallett's violin, while ''The Passions'' is a somber affair that slows the midsection down in quite a lovely manner, stuck between ''The Secret Seven'' and ''The Sky Behind The Flag'', two pieces which make a point of building themselves with purpose before resolving without the expected climax, although their respective journeys are satisfying enough anyway. Brief string intersection ''→, Part 1'' introduces us to the closing chapters of In Conflict which kick off with ''The Riverbed'', a drum heavy, louder side to the album that almost sounds like the answer to the aforementioned climax that ''Seven'' and ''Sky'' were searching for, before major highlight ''Infernal Fantasy'' interupts the tracklist with a glorious, chaotic electronic mess that threatens to implode on itself in an unexpected turn of events which has Eno written all over it. Following ''Fantasy'' we're brought to a gentle close by ''Soldier's Rock'' before ''→, Part 2'' ends In Conflict fittingly with another string arrangement shrouded in synth.

And so In Conflict showcases its songwriter modestly progressing in an intriguing new direction with precision and confidence. In typical style this is a humble offering from Pallett but throughout In Conflict are glimses that hint at a more ambitious artist, one who is capable of expanding on an already solid catalogue. It would be fair to say that In Conflict marks the best solo work of Owen Pallett's career (perhaps challenged by debut Has A Good Home under the FF moniker), but you get the feeling that the always reliable and eternally reserved Pallett potentially has his best work ahead of him yet, a suspicion confirmed by this collection of electro tinged tracks which showcase a skillful development in sound.


''I Never Learn'' Lykke Li - A Review

Since she debuted on the music scene in 2008, Lykke Li has won a fair amount of praise for her electro tinged indie tunes, most notably for standout single ''I Follow Rivers'' which charted highly around Europe throughout 2011 and 2012. Her most successful release to date was a club friendly offering for sure, but mid way through 2014 Li has left behind the synths and drum machines in favour of her acoustic guitar for I Never Learn, her third record and one which she describes as dealing with "the biggest breakup of her life". Furthermore, Li claims that I Never Learn is the album which she feels will define her artistry and truly establish her place in the industry, a claim which proves to be prophetic throughout these 9 sorrowful ballads.

It's clear from the very beginning that this is very much the product of a badly broken heart as Li opens proceedings with the glooming, atmospheric title track, introducing us to the dark, brooding nature of the album before a wave of strings bring the opener to a skillful finish and ''No Rest For The Wicked'' showcases some single material with its anthemic chorus, albeit it for its same bleak nature which is exposed in cold piano twitches and the powerful vocal of Li, who almost sighs her painfully honest lyrics through the speaker with admissions like ''I let my true love die'' burning the listener's ear. Similiarly, ''Gunshot'' sounds chart friendly through its pounding, relatively up tempo style but it still manages to carry the all consuming, inescapable despair of the album with ease. ''Just Like A Dream'' makes for another first half highlight, reflecting its title with a distant, echoed vocal that reverberates deep within and lends a deep resonance to Li's lyrics due to her tired singing throughout.

Speaking of Li's vocal, it would be impossible not to mention ''Love Me Like I'm Not Made Of Stone'', an intriguing solo ballad that marks the songwriter's best performance of the album without doubt as she supports herself with stunning lyrical accompaniment to a single, tuneless acoustic guitar. Following the album's darkest moment comes its closest brush with a traditional pop song, although ''Never Gonna Love Again'' proves to be an ugly version of a 90's style ballad with its typically black lyrics standing in stark contrast to the uplifting chords it utilizes, coming off like some kind of twisted relative to Savage Garden's ''Truly, Madly, Deeply'' and making it one of the most memorable pieces of the album by creating a weirdly beautiful contradiction through its misleading sound.

Once again, penultimate track ''Heart Of Steel'' would have been another contender for chart success if it weren't for the self depreciating tongue Li uses on herself in an almost celebratory, sinister manner. There's nothing sinister about the final moments of I Never Learn with ''Sleeping Alone'' however, a stunningly insight into Li's struggle to live by herself following her lost lover. ''Alone'' is a perfect end, painfully tugging at heartstrings with its painfully stabbed piano chords and emotional honesty, defining the message that Li communicates so wonderfully throughout the entirety of her 3rd release.

On conclusion, I Never Learn is a beautiful ode to the lonely, fractured, weak personality that can overtake anyone in a post relationship state. With its immersive, mesmerizing mood and acoustic tenderness, I Never Learn invites comparison to another break up masterpiece in Beck's Sea Change, coming off like a younger sister to one of Hansen's magnum opus', high praise indeed for an artist who has yet to reach their thirties. If Lykke Li was looking to establish herself in the industry with I Never Learn, she can consider this album an unbridled success- within a whirlwind 32 mins, Li presents herself as a developing songwriter with maturity beyond her years, creating music with depth, integrity, raw power and emotional impact.