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What’s not to Lykke?

Swedish songstress enchants at Concorde 2

Lykke Li, Swedish pop sensation, emerges for our interview like a sleepy elfin princess. She promptly perches herself on the arm of the big sofa and instructs me to sit down – so that, despite the foot’s difference between our heights, she’s the tallest.

It becomes apparent in talking to Lykke Li (pronounced Lickey Lee) that she’s been doing this sort of thing for a while. On the road since November, with imminent sell-out gigs in New York and Chicago, Lykke gives a rare smile recalling footage of her two-year-old self (“always naked”) singing into a toy microphone: “I’ve always been a singer,” she explains.

Whether aloof, tired, or annoyed – possibly all three at the same time – the 22-year-old seems adamant that her sound is unique: “I don’t really have influences” she claims. She does name-check Nina Simone and Pedro Almodovar as creators she has appreciated – but stops short of giving her own style a definition. Other responses about her experiences include “every city was good in different ways”, and “every gig is similar”. Curious about her true opinions, I experiment by asking her favourite colour. She indicates her monochrome outfit. “Black for clothes – for life, off-white”. I keep a lid on my urge to debate the matter of black and white classifying as colours, sensing this wouldn’t be appreciated.

‘musical sunshine emanated from the group: dreamy sounds, with just enough bite to keep things interesting’

Later that night – after support band Micachu and the Shapes had delivered their set with attractive roll-up-your-sleeves gusto – Lykke Li strolled on-stage for a performance of all her album tracks, utilising a tambourine, a tin can with a spring attached and a megaphone to self-accompany at various points. The diminutive popstrel’s lilting, hypnotic tunes are at times reminiscent of Sigur Ros, and her tripsy, slightly drawling vocals invoke Regina Spektor; while the Japanese kodo-style drumming on ‘Little Bit’, performed by a standing drummer, added bursts of energy. With a pretty commanding stage presence and earnestly tight backing band, Lykke Li swayed, pranced and marched in true cool-pop fashion, with ‘Dance Dance Dance’ spurring an all-age crowd to savour her eminently danceable tunes. A collective smile seemed to be stealing over the audience as musical sunshine emanated from the group – dreamy sounds, with just enough bite to keep things interesting.

The set ran out of steam slightly in the middle, with songs sounding less distinctive; but Li continued the full pop-star act right through her revelation that she “only has 10 songs”. Having run out of material, she covered “a song she could’ve written” – ‘After Laughter’, a downbeat 60s R’n’B number for which Lykke’s winsome voice didn’t quite have the power, although tuneful and supported by rich 3-part harmonies from her band.

Lykke Li left the stage to rapturous applause and a definite feeling that she’ll be welcomed back to Brighton any time she wants. Watch this space.

Check out myspace.com/lykkeli to hear the dulcet tones and danceability of Lykke Li.

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