Youth Novels

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Youth Novels
Lykke Li - Youth Novels.jpeg
Studio album by Lykke Li
Released 30 January 2008 (2008-01-30)
Recorded Atlantis Studio, Decibel Studios, Högalid Studio
(Stockholm, Sweden)
Genre Indie pop, dream pop, synthpop
Length 44:49
Label LL
Producer Björn Yttling, Lasse Mårtén
Lykke Li chronology
Youth Novels
Wounded Rhymes
Singles from Youth Novels
  1. "Little Bit"
    Released: 24 September 2007
  2. "I'm Good, I'm Gone"
    Released: 14 January 2008
  3. "Breaking It Up"
    Released: 5 May 2008
  4. "Tonight"
    Released: 18 August 2008

Youth Novels is the debut album by Swedish recording artist Lykke Li, released on 30 January 2008 on her own label, the EMI-distributed LL Recordings. It was entirely produced by Björn Yttling of Swedish indie rock trio Peter Bjorn and John and co-produced by Lasse Mårtén. The video for the single "I'm Good, I'm Gone" was featured as the Music Video of the Week on the US iTunes Store for the week of 14 October 2008, while the song "Dance, Dance, Dance" was featured as the Single of the Week on the French and Australian iTunes Stores for the same week.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 75/100[1]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[2]
The A.V. Club B[3]
Drowned in Sound 8/10[4]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[5]
NME 8/10[6]
Pitchfork Media 7.8/10[7]
PopMatters 7/10[8]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[9]
Spin 7/10[10]
The Times 4/5 stars[11]

Youth Novels received general acclaim from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 75, based on 27 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[1] Jon Lusk of BBC Music raved that "this solid debut album lives up to the promising groundwork", adding that Li "sings her catchy pop confections in a breathy, girlish voice that falls somewhere between her angst-filled compatriot Stina Nordenstam on effective anti-depressants and the candy-flavoured bleat of Altered Images' Clare Grogan."[12] Alex Denney of Drowned in Sound praised it as "a twinkle-toed debut that dares to suggest what others can only make tediously plain, and leaves us in the rarely-enjoyed position of actually wanting more."[4] PopMatters's Adrien Begrand called it "extraordinary" and wrote that "Lykke Li and Yttling have created a surprisingly stark-sounding album, an enticing blend of Robyn's unpretentious dance-pop and El Perro del Mar's introspection and tenderness. For a record whose thematic center is the hormonally-enhanced, bipolar passion of one's teenage years, it's remarkably mature-sounding."[8] The Times critic Tom Gatti noted that Yttling gave Youth Novels the same treatment as to Peter Bjorn and John's song "Young Folks", saying he "[weaves] Lykke Li's girlish, wistful songs of young love and loss into bright pocket symphonies."[11]

The Independent's Simon Price opined that "[w]hen she sings, Lykke recalls Björk at her least screechy and Saint Etienne at their most reflective, but on the spoken word-interludes 'Melodies & Desires' and 'This Trumpet in My Head', she combines the sense of wonder of Jarvis Cocker with the tear-choked restraint of The Shangri-Las. Another quality consignment of delicious Scandipop."[13] In a review for The A.V. Club, Vadim Rizov characterised Youth Novels as "all teasing and heartbreak, with production [...] that plays on empty spaces as much as well-chosen backing", commending Li for "adeptly [straddling] the line between instant gratification and minimalist smarts."[3] Killian Fox of The Observer commented that "[t]he coquettish charm of her voice, tinged with shyness, is brilliantly offset by Björn Yttling's skeletal productions, which create great pop momentum out of the slightest effects", concluding that "[t]he lyrics lack focus at times but this is a winning debut."[14] Greg Cochrane of the NME rated the album eight out of ten, calling it "[s]imple but sensational".[6] K. Ross Hoffman of Allmusic wrote, "Brimming with ideas but understated, even tentative in executing them, and big on hooks but nervously intimate in presentation, Youth Novels is a curious, decidedly unorthodox but endearing record. Both youthful and novel [...] it's hard to pigeonhole but refreshingly easy to enjoy."[2]

Joe Gross of Spin stated that "[h]er voice is mousy, the low end juicy, the melodies sketchy, the choruses huge", but found that "[s]he should lose the spoken-word bits, though; they don't even work for her goddess Madonna."[10] Stephen M. Deusner of Paste wrote that "Li writes hooks that come out of nowhere and verses that knot around sexual and emotional bruises, grafting pop-R&B melodies onto spartan arrangements that suggest French yé-yé attitude, American hip-hop beats and Euro-dance production."[15] Tom Ewing of Pitchfork Media expressed, "At its frequent best, the record manages to sketch out widescreen hit songs with a remarkable economy of means. At its more occasional worst, the tracks feel frustratingly underthought."[7] Will Hermes of Rolling Stone felt that Li's "frosty squeak is a limited instrument, but she works it, mixing adorable playground scats with spoken-word whispers and parched coos that barely sketch her sugary melodies. The arrangements also dress simple tunes in surprising ways, with odd choral bits and percolating percussion webs that should tease movement from even reluctant hips."[9] Ben Urdang of musicOMH remarked that "[a] high standard is maintained throughout the possibly over-generous 14 tracks, but it's not quite enough. Too many of the songs pass by without grabbing you and making you love them. It's ultimately a bit ineffectual."[16] The Guardian's Maddy Costa claimed that the song "Tonight" "shows what she is capable of: underscored by a melancholy piano, she is darkly seductive", but "[a]fter that has passed, the album just gets increasingly cloying."[5]


Spin placed the album at number thirty-six on its list of The 40 Best Albums of 2008, with critic Barry Walters stating that "studio finesse from Björn Yttling [...] brings out both in an unconventionally stark yet nuanced debut that complements Li's pop instincts and complicates even her most straightforward serenades."[17] Q magazine ranked it number thirty-seven on its list of The 50 Best Albums of 2008.[18] PopMatters named it the fortieth best album of 2008, and writer Michael Keefe commented that "[w]ith Youth Novels, Li has sifted her way down to the core elements of modern music and built her own enigmatic, yet highly accessible, vision for the future."[19] Sean Adams of Drowned in Sound included the album at number forty-one on his list of the year's top fifty albums.[20] Youth Novels appeared at number forty-four on NME's Top 50 Albums of 2008.[21] Pitchfork Media listed it at forty-five on its list of The 50 Best Albums of 2008, and the website's Jessica Suarez wrote that "[u]nlike a lot of young adults, [...] Li expertly uses melodies, desires, and just a few drum beats to try and express what she's feeling, and she invites us to follow along as she sorts through it all."[22] Paste named it the forty-sixth album of the year and referred to Li as "the hook heavy, Euro-dance infused soul sister to friend El Perro del Mar's lo-fi anthems."[23]

The album earned Li five nominations for the 2009 Swedish Grammis, including Album of the Year, Female Artist of the Year, Live Act of the Year, Composer of the Year (with Yttling) and Lyricist of the Year.[24] The same year, she won the P3 Guld award for Newcomer of the Year and was nominated for Pop Artist of the Year.[25][26]

Commercial performance[edit]

In Li's native Sweden, Youth Novels debuted and peaked at number three on the Swedish Albums Chart for the week of 7 February 2008, behind Johnny Logan & Friends' The Irish Connection and Van Morrison's Still on Top – The Greatest Hits.[27] It spent twenty non-consecutive weeks altogether on the chart, including four re-entries in 2008 and one on 30 January 2009.[28] Additionally, it became the ninetieth best-selling album of 2008 in Sweden.[29] The album charted for a sole week in both the United Kingdom and Ireland, reaching numbers 112 and seventy-five, respectively.[30][31] In continental Europe, Youth Novels reached number thirty-six in Norway,[32] number fifty-six in Belgium,[33] number seventy-five in the Netherlands[34] and number 143 in France.[35] It also peaked at number eighteen on Billboard's Top Heatseekers in the United States,[36] and at number seven on Australia's similar Hitseekers Albums Chart.[37] As of April 2014, the album has sold 106,000 copies in the United States.[38]

Track listing[edit]

All music composed by Lykke Li and Björn Yttling.

No. Title Lyrics Length
1. "Melodies & Desires"   Li, Nils-Erik Sandberg 3:52
2. "Dance, Dance, Dance"   Li 3:41
3. "I'm Good, I'm Gone"   Li, Yttling 3:09
4. "Let It Fall"   Li 2:42
5. "My Love"   Li 4:36
6. "Little Bit"   Li 4:33
7. "Hanging High"   Li 4:07
8. "This Trumpet in My Head" (1:42 on the international edition) Li, Sandberg 2:36
9. "Complaint Department"   Yttling 4:32
10. "Breaking It Up"   Li 3:41
11. "Time Flies"   Li 3:21
12. "Window Blues"   Li, Sandberg 3:59


Credits adapted from Youth Novels album liner notes.[41]

Additional personnel for the international edition
  • John Eriksson – percussion (12)
  • Per "Ruskträsk" Johansson – flute (6)
  • Lars Skoglund – cowbell (6); drums (12)
  • Björn Yttling – electric bass, piano (6, 12); celesta, organ, percussion, rocksichord (6); flute, trumpet (12)


Release history[edit]

Country Date Label
Sweden[42] 30 January 2008 LL Recordings
Ireland[43] 6 June 2008 Atlantic Records
United Kingdom[44] 9 June 2008
Netherlands[45] 14 August 2008 Warner Music
United States[46] 19 August 2008 Atlantic Records
Australia[47] 5 September 2008 Warner Music
France[48] 29 September 2008


  1. ^ a b "Youth Novels – Lykke Li". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Hoffman, K. Ross. "Youth Novels – Lykke Li". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Rizov, Vadim (25 August 2008). "Lykke Li: Youth Novels". The A.V. Club. Onion, Inc. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Denney, Alex (5 June 2008). "Lykke Li – Youth Novels". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Costa, Maddy (30 May 2008). "Lykke Li, Youth Novels". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Cochrane, Greg (6 June 2008). "Lykke Li – Youth Novels". NME. IPC Media. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Ewing, Tom (3 June 2008). "Lykke Li: Youth Novels". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Begrand, Adrien (26 March 2008). "Lykke Li: Youth Novels". PopMatters. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  9. ^ a b Hermes, Will (21 August 2008). "Youth Novels : Lykke Li". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Archived from the original on 29 April 2009. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  10. ^ a b Gross, Joe. "Lykke Li, 'Youth Novels'". Spin. Spin Media LLC. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  11. ^ a b Gatti, Tom (7 June 2008). "Lykke Li: Youth Novels". The Times. Times Newspapers. Archived from the original on 15 June 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  12. ^ Lusk, Jon (6 June 2008). "Review of Lykke Li – Youth Novels". BBC Music. BBC Online. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  13. ^ Price, Simon (8 June 2008). "Album: Lykke Li, Youth Novels (LL Recordings)". The Independent. Independent News & Media. Archived from the original on 19 June 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  14. ^ Fox, Killian (18 May 2008). "Reviews 11–25". The Observer. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  15. ^ Deusner, Stephen M. (19 August 2008). "Lykke Li: Youth Novels". Paste. Paste Media Group. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  16. ^ Urdang, Ben. "Lykke Li – Youth Novels (Atlantic)". musicOMH. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  17. ^ "The 40 Best Albums of 2008". Spin. Spin Media LLC. 11 December 2008. Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
  18. ^ "The 50 Best Albums of 2008". Q. Bauer Media Group. January 2009. Retrieved 22 January 2011. 
  19. ^ Adams, Sean (19 December 2008). "The Best Albums of 2008". PopMatters. Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
  20. ^ "Drowned in Sound's 50 albums of 2008". Drowned in Sound. 11 December 2008. Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
  21. ^ brandon (11 December 2008). "NME's Top 50 Albums Of 2008". Stereogum. Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
  22. ^ "The 50 Best Albums of 2008". Pitchfork Media. 19 December 2008. Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
  23. ^ "Signs of Life 2008: Best Music". Paste. Paste Media Group. 21 November 2008. Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
  24. ^ "De kan få en Grammis i år". Aftonbladet (in Swedish). 26 November 2008. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  25. ^ "Årets nykomling: Lykke Li" (in Swedish). Sveriges Radio P3. 17 January 2009. Retrieved 30 April 2011. 
  26. ^ "Alla nominerade" (in Swedish). Sveriges Radio P3. Retrieved 30 April 2011. 
  27. ^ "Sverigetopplistan – Albums Top 60". Swedish Recording Industry Association. Hung Medien. 7 February 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  28. ^ a b "Lykke Li – Youth Novels". Swedish Recording Industry Association. Hung Medien. Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  29. ^ a b "Årslista Album – År 2008". Sverigetopplistan. Swedish Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  30. ^ a b "Chart Log UK: 1994–2008". Official Charts Company. The Zobbel Website. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  31. ^ a b "Top 75 Artist Album, Week Ending 12 June 2008". Irish Recorded Music Association. Chart-Track. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  32. ^ a b "Lykke Li – Youth Novels". Verdens Gang. Hung Medien. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  33. ^ a b "Lykke Li – Youth Novels" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  34. ^ a b "Lykke Li – Youth Novels" (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Hung Medien. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  35. ^ a b "Lykke Li – Youth Novels" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Hung Medien. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  36. ^ a b "Lykke Li Album & Song Chart History – Heatseekers Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  37. ^ a b "ARIA Hitseekers – Week Commencing 19th January 2009" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. Pandora Archive. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  38. ^ Lipshutz, Jason (22 April 2014). "Lykke Li's Wounded New Album: 'I Only Thought I Knew What Heartbreak Was Until This Record'". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  39. ^ "Youth Novels (Special Edition) by Lykke Li". iTunes Store US. Apple Inc. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  40. ^ "Youth Novels (Deluxe Edition) by Lykke Li". iTunes Store UK. Apple Inc. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  41. ^ Youth Novels (UK CD liner notes). Lykke Li. Atlantic Records. 2008. 5144282482. 
  42. ^ "Lykke Li : Youth Novel (CD)" (in Swedish). Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  43. ^ "Lykke Li – Youth Novels". Tower Records Ireland. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  44. ^ "Lykke Li: Youth Novels". HMV. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  45. ^ "Youth Novels | Lykke Li" (in Dutch). Free Record Shop. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  46. ^ "Youth Novels: Lykke Li". Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  47. ^ "Youth Novels – Lykke Li". JB Hi-Fi. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  48. ^ "Youth Novels: Lykke Li" (in French). Retrieved 2 January 2011. 

External links[edit]