Any pop-princess newbie must pledge allegiance, in the press, to the half-century-old Madonna — it’s a little-known ASCAP bylaw. And if she’s terribly lucky, the new girl will be anointed with a big wet kiss from the Material Lady during a live TV awards show. Lykke Li, the fledgling musical superstar from Sweden, has correctly cited The Immaculate Collection as an early influence; but, as she told one interviewer, she really learned to express herself by watching the beautifully sad and eccentric 1975 documentary Grey Gardens. Good luck explaining that to Seacrest.
Li’s first full-length release, Youth Novels (available now), is addictive, sugar-sweet pop with a fairly grown-up grasp of life and love that belies her tender age (22). She’s at once “Hello Kitty” cute and Liz Phair whip-smart. The chorus of disc highlight “Little Bit” encapsulates this enticing push-pull persona: “I think I’m a little bit in love with you, but only if you’re a little bit in love with me.” Deal.
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