Since 2007, Lykke Li has graced the world with her brand of intricate, layered pop music.She played a sold-out show at the 9:30 Club on Oct. 6 that still had an intimate feeling, despite the space of the venue and the large crowd.
Her latest album, “I Never Learn,” was released in May 2014 as the ending of a trilogy that started with her debut “Youth Novels.” “I Never Learn” is a somber album, filled with ballads and soul-searching tracks that show maturity and deep contemplation.
Li’s style was a stark contrast to opener Mapei, best known for her cheerful and rhythmic single “Don’t Wait.” Mapei’s set was an upbeat and energetic start to the concert. With big hair and even bigger vocals, she danced on stage with few inhibitions and did her best to warm up the crowd. It worked because soon, the crowd was cheering and dancing along with her. Her set used bright, colorful lights that matched an equally blinding smile.
The transition to Li’s set was jarring. The lights became colorless and the fog machine was used in full effect. The singer, as well as the five-piece band, was dressed in all black with similar dark expressions on their faces.
Li’s voice pierced like a bell as she sang songs from her latest album and from past albums. Midway through her third song, she stopped in the middle and asked everyone in the audience to put away their phones and camera. With a small smile, she said that she was shy and that she wanted everyone to enjoy her performance in the moment. Then she returned to singing with the full power of her voice.
Some of her more buoyant songs were “Dance, Dance, Dance,” “Get Some,” “I Follow Rivers” and “Little Bit,” all of which happen to be her more well-known tracks. She encouraged people to dance along with her and joked that she would dance even if she wasn’t good at it. Overall, her set was technically smooth and her vocals were dipped with immense passion. There was a good balance of slow-moving, weighty songs and active, lively songs.
For the encore, she brought Mapei back on stage where their distinct vocals could be compared; Mapei’s rough but soulful croon and Li’s clear and ringing voice filled the room and brought loud applause from the audience. It marked the arrival of a new star sharing the stage with a veteran talent in the Swedish pop music scene.