If this one slipped under your radar at the time then don’t worry, because I missed it too. But in 2018, Lykke Li’s sound changed for the better. Since the retro rock hit of “I Follow Rivers” in 2011 and the lowkey followup I Never Learn in 2014, the Swedish singer relocated to Los Angeles, had a baby, and made the best work of her career.
“For the first time in my life, I was actually inspired by what was happening right now in music. Before, I would only listen to old shit and just kind of reminiscing of the past,” she told The Fader. And working in the present with pop producers brings a much-welcomed direction to her sound.
Malay stands out as a key component of so sad so sexy. The producer who crafted much of Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE and Blonde, as well as 3 tracks on Lorde’s Melodrama, was at the helm of production on 7 of the 10 tracks on this album. Sonically, we hear echoes of Frank’s futuristic, ambient beats. Structurally, the songs are uninhibited in their display of emotion, like Lorde’s “Sober”.
I first discovered this album last summer when Li released the follow-up remix EP still sad still sexy. The “sex money feelings die” remix features Lil Baby, and the existence of a collaboration between the two seemingly disparate artists caught my attention. Surprisingly, the combination was not bizarre at all. Since Lykke Li is no longer stuck in the past, she is using her talents as a songwriter and singer to make some of the most outstanding pop music of the present.