On a superficial level, Lykke Li’s third studio effort, I Never Learn is a sad collection of the usual post break-up songs we’ve all heard before. The Swedish songstress seems to ride on the same downtempo throughout—no I Follow Rivers or Get Some correlates here. But despite that tact, every track on this album is relatable and takes us on an emotional journey through the steps of a breakup, which in Li’s interpretation seems to be frustration, pain and ultimately loneliness.
A strong start, the title track gives us insight into the lush style she’s decided on for this album. It begins with a harmonious vocal performance and ends in an orchestral arrangement. It’s as intimate as it is grand, a vibe that carries on through most of her other tracks. The single, No Rest For The Wicked, is a powerful, dark ballad contemplating how it feels to be lonely. Gunshot is the only track that recalls the pounding drumbeats that characterized her previous album, Wounded Rhymes. It’s mysterious and chilling too, but it’s the most upbeat cut of the entire album and one of few that can stand alone.
Love Me Like I’m Not Made Of Stone is the most raw and emotional we’ve see Li yet. For this track, she does not hide behind grand production or orchestral background melodies. It’s just Li with her guitar pleading for a love strong enough to overcome any pain or hardship. The sincerest moment comes towards the end during the last round of the chorus where she struggles to produce the words. It’s a unique chance for us to hear debilitating heartbreak in its purest form through her performance.
The final three tracks bring out that guarded feeling you get after you’ve gotten over a lost love. The titles are glaringly self-explanatory, but with a closer listen you start to sympathize. In Never Gonna Love Again, she expresses the fears of never being able to find another love. But with Heart Of Steel, where she begs, “Don’t leave me dying, without a lover to hold,” she subtly emphasizes the balance between keeping your guard up and being open to new opportunities.
The incredibly painful lyrics might not express the most inspirational perspective on a breakup, but they definitely embody what we all know to be too true sometimes. Even though we’re heartbroken, we never want to give up searching for the love that will make us happy. And more often than not, that road leads to anguish. But in the meantime, Lykke Li shows us that it’s always therapeutic to know that everybody goes through the same thing.