Jens Lekman describes his new record, Life Will See You Now, playfully, but also honestly, as "a midlife-crisis disco album; it's an existentialist record, about seeing the consequences of your choices". It's a typical Lekman album in several ways: sly humour is key to its heartfelt nature; it inverts pop's writing norm by making songs with sad concerns sound happy and songs with a happy subject sound sad; and it plays with notions of identity and the self. But, as the title suggests, it also represents a significant move forward, as if across a threshold. It's the more expansive, upbeat sound of a revitalised Lekman, who is just one of many characters in his new stories about the magic and messiness of different kinds of relationships.
Limited edition 7” from Jens Lekman featuring the title track of his new album, I Know What Love Isn’t, and an exclusive b-side cover of Ten City’s “That’s The Way Love Is”.
Jens Lekman will release a new album, I Know What Love Isn't , on September 4 on Secretly Canadian. The album is his first full length in 5 years, following the critically acclaimed Night Falls Over Kortedala .
The album came out of a break up which isn't a new story. He fell in love and it didn't work out. It borrows sparingly from the vast and colorful palette of sounds he created on Kortedala. I Know What Love Isn't has strings but not a string section, an upright piano not grand, a single saxophone, gracenotes from a flute, a lot of tambourine. Combined in exact proportions with Lekman's melancholy abstract lyrics, the songs evoke the classic sound of the Brill Building in it's heyday.
Lekman is a storyteller of the highest caliber, letting his delicate vignettes unfold to show the wonder that lies in the mundane. That's what I Know What Love Isn't … is. A collection of songs that grew to a story that had to be told. A story that is not new, but essentially human. The story of the grey areas of love t25hat you have to excavate and explore, using the method of exclusion, to find out what love is.
In the symbology of Lekman's songbook, motion is a means to stave off insanity or succumb to it and the songs on "An Argument With Myself" EP deal with many types of movement, both big and small, from why he moved to Melbourne to the societal change/movement in his old hometown of Gothenburg to simple map directions.
The opening song and title track begins with this excellent Jens archetype, recounting an inner battle while walking home through the central business district of Melbourne, Australia. While on its face, “Waiting For Kirsten” seems to trace an ultimately futile odyssey to track down Kirsten Dunst while she films in Gothenburg, its really an attempt to work out the complex relationship one has with one's hometown. The comfort and disappoint of what's changed, and what seems to never change. Alternately, the horn driven “New Directions” brings a slightly manic roadmap of directions to any place but here and any time but now. The songs are witty, literal, and impeccably location-specific, and they’re all heading somewhere as a means to either go crazy or keep from doing so.
With more fractured textures that combine horns, flutes, string swells and arpeggiated guitars, the opening of the EP finds Jens in constant state of transition, musically, as well. However, as “An Argument With Myself” comes to a close the arrangements get looser, more reggae-tinged and relaxed, like a music box winding down. For a moment, the motion almost stops. For now.
Jens Lekman opens Night Falls Over Kortedala with the sure step of an artist in complete command of his creative self. Imbued with epic grandeur, "And I Remember Every Kiss" fades in with a melancholy timpani roll, a stirring string section and Jens crooning with every wistful bone in his body. After the first verse, the strings passionately swell into a wall of sound and - with one gravity-defying pass-through - Jens delivers his death blow to cynicism by declaring, "And I would never kiss anyone / Who doesn't burn me like the sun / And I remember every kiss like my first kiss;" illustrating just why many consider him one of the most important of the hopeful broken hearts coming of age in contemporary music. Like a modern day Chet Baker, Jens absolutely loves to sing about heartache.
On "Sipping On The Sweet Nectar", Jens introduces a dance beat to his string, horn & croon combo. And it only gets bigger from there with the tableside backbeat of "Opposite of Hallelujah" to the live favorite "A Postcard To Nina", and the slender hooks of "I'm Leaving You Because I Don't Love You" to the Frankie Valli purity of "Shirin" - an epic ode to Jens' barber which is reminiscent of a Mexican folk ballad.
Jens arduously labored over the songs on Night Falls Over Kortedala over the last three years between relentless tours (which ranged from full blown 8-piece ensembles to just Jens alone with a ukelele at the mic). Kortedala refers to a neighborhood in Jens' hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden, where his studio Koredala Beauty Center is located. It also refers to a vague musical pop sound with hints of tropicalia that has been coming out of Gothenburg's clubs over the last few years. Having more in common with Paul Simon's Graceland, Jens' latest is a response to more than an engagement in today's Kortedala music of his Swedish peers. An exercise in insularity, Night Falls Over Kortedala has achieved its specific sound not from going out but from Jens staying in and coming to grips with the sounds he had in his head, or as he said, "from the sound of my own voice reverberating off my home's old '50s brick walls, from the ghosts of everyone who's lived here before me clapping along with their little ecto-plasm hands. My record basically never leaves the 30 square meters that I live on until the very last song when i take a short bus ride to the countryside in 'Friday Night at the Drive-in Bingo'."
Night Falls Over Kortedala features Jens friendlies Frida Hyvönen and El Perro Del Mar.
Preceding his successful debut full length, When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog, Jens Lekman released into the world three little gems. Gems that didn't reach as far as the LP...but damn, were those perfect nuggets. First came Maple Leaves (a concise pop masterpiece with such poignant hits such as "Black Cab" and "Maple Leaves"), then came the Rocky Dennis EP (a more personal and bittersweet affair in which Jens celebrates and eventually retires his erroneous alter ego, Rocky Dennis, mistakenly given to him after a Swedish DJ happened upon an early demo of this recording), and You Are the Light (the perfect harmony between the previous two eps including the wondrous title track of horns, love and misdemeanors). And so, we offer this... ALL OF THEM ON ONE CD! We've filled up the space and present to you this collection of all three out-of-print eps as well as some hard to find out-takes from the harder to find Dept. Of Forgotten Songs.
Call it a curse. Jens Lekman’s is a world populated by an endless stream of women. But not just any sort of women. No, these are the sort of women that inspire the most joyous of heartbreak in your mild-mannered crooner. There he is: hair mussed & glasses off-kilter, sitting in the corner of the cafe with his journal bookmarked once again; like Truffaut’s The Man Who Loved Women, Jens Lekman is a man forever at a crossroads between competing inspirations. Some of the women have names (Silvia, Lisa, Julie, Maria); some don’t (the chili cook in The Cold Swedish Winter, the bread baker in the title track, the make out artist in A Higher Power, for example). It’s all part of Lekman’s story. He loves to fixate on inspiration and has a special gift for not only finding it, but spreading it. His songs are each so different stylistically, each a classic in its own way. He employs each of the following as central features in his songs: horn sections, string sections, a capella singing, steel drums, piano balladry, and mandolin. Lekman is a young pop crooner from Göteborg, Sweden. Eyes bright, heart wide open, he’s become an overnight sensation with his home recorded magic and fantastic lyrics. It’s hard to believe that he is only 23. He could as well be playing Las Vegas. His timeless elegance makes the big, beautiful suburban pop songs sound like they’re already classics. Which they are. He recently hit #2 on the Swedish national pop charts for the title track to this EP. Most everyone who’s heard him believes him to be the next great pop star emerging from the streets of the DIY underground. With an angelic voice and golden ears he seems to be drinking from the same hard waters as the Carpenters, Harry Nilsson, the Magnetic Fields, Smog, the Modern Lovers and Belle & Sebastian.
Opening with all the pomp of a ferocious episode of The Price is Right, You Are the Light finds Jens Lekman in full effect, ditching the samples in favor of — gasp! — real musicians performing in a real studio. Jens even flew to Denmark to work with the pre-eminent Horn Quartet of continental Europe. You Are the Light showcases the blossoming of a master songwriter discovering his voice & his method in the most classic sense. Just as pop stars Serge Gainsbourg, Scott Walker and Prince segued from their early work into their more wildly iconoclastic periods, You are the Light signals not only a birthing for Jens, but also the end of an era for him. On this EP, we also find Jens at perhaps his most vulnerable, the spare “A Man Walks Into A Bar”, is essentially just Jens and a mic — nada mas. This EP serves as a coda to his upcoming debut full-length When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog, having been recorded at the tail end of those album sessions, and, ultimately, it gives a small insight into where this burgeoning maestro is going. Lekman has been called "the latest and possibly greatest Scandinavian export... A modest commercial success in his homeland and a genuinely compelling artist, as evinced on the Maple Leaves EP and Rocky Dennis EP. Perched at the center of an unbelievably lush swirl of strings and background cooing, Lekman comes very close to evoking the early solo work of John Cale.” (Paste Magazine)