Swedish singer Lykke Li explores the many different avenues of escape in "Sex Money Feelings Die."

Pop Music's in a funny state, here at the mid-point of 2018. Instead of the usual glossy, bouncy, optimistic bounce we're used to, especially at the outbreak of summer, many of  our favorite pop musicians are turning in moody, introspective, damn-near-gritty confessional investigations of their lives and the world we're living in. Donald Glover's usually-comedic Childish Gambino projects just gave us a thoughtful, horribly satirical take on race relations in America with "This Is America."  Heck, even Taylor Swift's been looking like a cyberpunk queen, ruling some thunderdome, following last year's "Reputation."

It speaks to the dualistic nature in which we consume pop music and culture. On one hand, it's our escape, our distraction, our painkiller. It's where we turn to lie our heads after a day of shrill newcycles blaring out atrocity after atrocity. On the other hand, that very escapism itself seems like it's part of the problem (alluded to in "This Is America.")

Sweden's Lykke Li manages to touch on both aspects of Pop Music with "Sex Money Feelings Die," the first of two new singles for her hotly-anticipated So Sad So Sexy album, due to drop on June 8.



Much has changed since Lykke Li's last album in 2014. The Pop Music landscape has altered beyond recognition. It shows in "Sex Money Feelings Die." The quirky, avant-pop of Lykke Li's usual ScandiPop experimentation is replaced with grim, dystopian post-R&B. Whereas Lykke Li's earliest work seemed to glow with an inner warmth, like campfire embers in a snowfield, "Sex Money Feelings Die" sounds distant and detached, broadcast from the dark heart of some distant galaxy. It's an examination of the emotional fallout of a relationship, so the feeling is appropriate for the subject matter. The musical evolution is cause for celebration, as well. It's never a good sign when an artist hasn't changed at all in almost half-a-decade.

Lykke Le continues to offer a fascinating glimpse into the musical underground, while also helping to steer the ship. She's been one of the most exciting artists to emerge from the beyond-fabulous ScandiPop scene. We Are: The Guard have already been frothing to hear So Sad, So Sexy. We're about to crawl out of our skins now! At least we've got a couple new singles to help us get through the week!


J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.