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Show some love for Jens Lekman

September 10th, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

When I found out a couple of months ago that Jens Lekman was going to release a new album, the butterflies in my stomach were tripping like hippies on an amphetamine-aided acid trip. I was turned on to Lekman’s music in 2005 by his utterly glorious Oh Jens, You’re So Silent, a compilation of EP tracks (our man has issued copious numbers of EPs). I still prefer it over his fine full debut, When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog (2004).

And so I approached Night Falls Over Kortedala with much indulgent good will. I was delighted when Jens started off in vintage Scott Walker-mode (for all his vocal limitations, Jens is Scott’s natural indie heir) on “I Remember Every Single Kiss”. I tapped my toes, aggressively out of rhythm for all the excitement, when “Sipping On The Sweet Nectar” revealed itself as a Philly Soul groove incorporating strings that belong to the theme of a “70s TV cop show. I loved “The Opposite Of Hallelujah”, which I had heard before, for maintaining the happy “70s sound of soul”s heyday. I delighted in the very Lekmanian line “The ocean made me feel stupid”.

And then things started to drift. Oooh, he’s doing a western theme now (“Into Eternity”). Oooh, he’s sampling Curtis Mayfield (on “A Postcard To Nina“). Oooh, Smiths guitars (“Your Arms Around Me”) and Morrissey going into falsetto vocals (“Shirin”). Oooh, children’s TV theme intro (“It Was A Strange Time In My Life”; actually, I’ve read Jens samples a recording of his childhood self)… Moments that grabbed my attention only momentarily (I lie, I love “A Postcard To Nina”), rather than being sucked in by the whole. Not until the album’s penultimate and most interesting track, “Kanske Ar Jag Kar I Dig” (sung in English, it means “Maybe I’m In Love With You”) was my interest completely roused “” just in time for “Friday Night At The Drive-In Bingo”, which borrows from Pat Boone’s “Speedy Gonzales”. It may well be the only Lekman song to which I have taken an instant dislike.

Night Falls Over Kortedala is not at all a poor album, even by Jens Lekman’s high standards. My ambivalence is the product of lofty expectations based on the works of genius represented on the previous two albums, which were less sample-frenzied than the new set. Indeed, the novelty of spotting the sample or borrowed riff wears off fairly soon. One feels that with Kortedala, Lekman overplayed his hand a little in an ambitious attempt to live up to his reputation as a latter-day Jonathan Richman. And, like Richman, Jens at times forgets to keep it simple.

But Lekman at his not-very-best is still better than many, or most, artists at their peak. It is an album worth listening to, if alone for the excellent and typically idiosyncratic lyrics. But it has nothing of the astonishing quality of songs like “Maple Leaves, “The Cold Swedish Winter“, the mesmerisingly pretty “Rocky Dennis’ Farewell Song“, the unbelievable “A Sweet Summers’ Night On Hammer Hill” (with the demented bom-de-bom-de-bom-de-bom-de-boms), “A Man Walks Into A Bar” (what a fantastic lyrical set-up), or the absolutely intoxicating brilliance of “Your Are The Light” (those lyrics and tune! Download it now!). And check out the Motownesque EP-only track, “I Don’t Know If She’s Worth 900 Kr“, one of Lekman’s finest works. Where on the older songs the quirk was a hugely appealing characteristic, on Kortedala it feels a little self-conscious. Or perhaps I am failing to spot a work of genius. I will keep listening to Night Falls Over Kortedala to find out.

Jens Lekman – A Postcard For Nina.mp3 (from Night Falls Over Kortedala, 2007)
Jens Lekman – Kanske Ar Jag Kar I Dig.mp3 (from Night Falls Over Kortedala, 2007)
Jens Lekman – A Sweet Summer’s Night On Hammer Hill.mp3 (from Oh, You’re So Silent Jens, 2005)
Jens Lekman – Rocky Dennis’ Farewell Song.mp3 (from Oh, You’re So Silent Jens, 2005)
Jens Lekman – A Man Walks Into A Bar.mp3 (from Oh, You’re So Silent Jens, 2005)

Jens Lekman – You Are The Light.mp3 (from When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog, 2004)
Jens Lekman – The Cold Swedish Winter.mp3 (from When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog, 2004)
Jens Lekman – I Don’t Know If She’s Worth 900 Kr.mp3 (from You Deserve Better Than A Bum Like Me EP, 2005)

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  1. arm
    September 10th, 2007 at 19:36 | #1

    nice blog… nice posting… thankyou…

  2. Jim
    September 13th, 2007 at 15:56 | #2

    Okay, Jens writes great songs – but the lyrics…well, I just wish he would write lyrics that are less “cutesy story”…

  3. Any major dude with half a heart
    September 13th, 2007 at 19:10 | #3

    Ah, that’s what I like. But check out “Psychogirl”, that’s a cutesy story with a bit of edge.

  4. Anonymous
    September 21st, 2007 at 18:00 | #4

    Jens Lenkman rocks, and ‘psychogirl’ might be the best song ever written by anyone, ever.

  5. Anonymous
    November 18th, 2007 at 21:25 | #5

    he’s not sampling curtis mayfield on ‘a postcard to nina”

  6. Kristen
    November 28th, 2007 at 08:14 | #6

    I’d never heard of this guy before – and now I love him! Thanks, Major Dude!

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