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Lykke Li photographed by Josh Olins.

Lykke Li Grows Up

The Swedish singer discusses her new album, I Never Learn, and her new fashion collection.

Youth Novels, the critically acclaimed debut album that won Lykke Li indie fame in 2008, is now, according to the Swedish pop singer, a relic of wide-eyed naivety. When you’re young, Li said recently, on the phone from Stockholm, “you have all these hopes and dreams—and not a lot of experience. You think you know about heartbreak, but you don’t.”

Now, six years after her breakout, Li is releasing what she considers her first authentically adult record, I Never Learn (LL Recordings/Atlantic), a collection of slow-burning ruminations on the aftermath of a broken relationship. “Love, desperation, fear, shame, lust—it’s about what every woman in her 20s and 30s experiences,” said Li, who wrote the record over a two-and-a-half-year period in L.A.

While I Never Learn doesn’t boast infectiously spirited songs like Youth Novel’s hit “Dance, Dance, Dance,” that was never Li’s goal. Instead, there are threadbare singles with titles like “Sleeping Alone.” “The album is about that space where you’re confused about how to be, and how to get the life you want,” she said. “I’ve learned the hard way.”

Lykki Li

Lykke Li. Photo by Josh Olins.

Li’s other current project also draws on personal experience. Her first fashion collection, a collaboration with H&M’s upmarket brand & Other Stories, was inspired by a life spent circling the globe—as a child, she lived in far flung locals including India, Portugal, and Morocco with her musician father and photographer mother—and will be in stores this fall. “When you travel so much, you kind of realize what you do and don’t need,” Li said.

The capsule collection features only the essentials: paired-down cigarette pants, a simple cashmere turtleneck, and perfect loafers—“in all black, of course,” said Li. “I basically drew the pieces that I’ve been searching for my whole life. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always bought a lot of vintage and then re-did it or cut stuff out. When I was 9, I went to a tailor in India and made this crazy outfit that I wore later on to raves.”

Her style today, she said, is more subdued and heavy on androgynous basics. “It’s not about fashion. It’s about feeling powerful.”

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