MAR 1: Lykke Li
Since her 2008 debut, Youth Novels, Lykke Li—a Swedish pop singer whose sweet voice belies some startlingly melancholy lyrics—appears to have undergone the early-20s equivalent of a spiritual rebirth. Li had her heart broken, roamed the streets of New York in despair, and ultimately moved to Los Angeles. After listening to stacks of old Leonard Cohen records, she at last started making music again. The result is Wounded Rhymes (March 1, LL Recordings), an expressive album that invokes wailing Fifties girl groups and mournful country rockers, and reaches into territory both deeper and more raw than anything the artist has done before. Li, for all of her 24 years, seems to have reached a new level of artistic maturity, though thankfully some of her trademarks— a killer drumbeat, a defiant attitude, and a reason to dance—are still here in spades.