Tuesday, October 9, 2007

night falls over kortedala by Jens Lekman

I adore Jens Lekman. I like to think he knows it… that perhaps his self-satisfied smile is the direct result of my giddy adoration1. But truthfully what's not to love? Unlike Ben Lee (relentlessly perky in the face of heartbreak) and Connor Oberst (where a mildly upsetting day at a blue collar job necessitates a night of drinking oneself blind), Jens Lekman live on my planet: yes stuff sucks…but there'll always be a sweet summer night on Hammer Hill…and hey weren't those riots in Gothenburg were pretty cool?

Night Falls Over Kortedala (released in the USA on Secretly Canadian) finds Jens where we left him: alone, without love, and blundering into circumstances bigger than ever before2. This time the stakes are higher. Instead of simply missing the last tram, "A Postcard to Nina" finds his frivolous trip to Berlin taken over with the task of being his friend's boyfriend…so she can stay with her girlfriend. Jens, being the perfect gentleman, plays his part in the farce, only to be interrogated by Nina’s father. "I get nervous and change the subject/put my hands on a metal object/he jokes and tells me it's a lie detector," he moans. Back in Gothenburg having passed the test, he still finds himself in the line of fire, crying to Nina "Your father's mailing me all the time/he says he just wants to say hi/I send back out of office replies."

Like the stakes in his stories, Jens' musical ambitions are bigger, leading to the record's only potential misstep, the bombastic AM radio-ready "I Remember Every Kiss." The album's shortest track, Jens croons, "I remember every kiss/like my first kiss," over a swelling string section. While not a highlight on first listen, Jens' nostalgic derailment is rewarded by "Sipping On Sweet Nectar" where, in an idealistic 180, he chastises himself for lingering on first loves and kisses, bemoaning that "I find myself on my death bed saying/I wish I could have loved less." Jens' best friend Lisa (of "Happy Birthday Lisa" fame) puts in her two cents, warning him, "That’s when the feeling hits/when you just lick your lips/can you feel the spring time breeze/you've got to stop sipping on the sweet nectar of your memories." Maybe Jens is living in his head a bit too much, but it's so much fun in there!

Even when the world defeats him, and love leaves him, Jens' trademark self-deprecation is still there. He still can dance the funky chicken, but his luck with the ladies doesn't seem to be improving. Even his sister gets her moment, laughing at him in "The Opposite of Hallelujah," when during an attempt at intellectual depth Jens "picked up a seashell to illustrate my homelessness/but a crab crawled of it making it useless." Always self-aware, Jens plays his strengths again and again. reminding us in "Kanske Ar Jag Kar i Dig," "The best way to touch your heart/is to make an ass of myself." Yes Jens, this is probably true, if only because it distracts from the fool I continually make of myself. Thank you.

1.I also like to believe my megalomania isn't taking a turn for the worst.

2. I once walked into a stop sign, giving myself a large black eye and a metaphor for my life. Clearly, Jens and I live in very similar worlds...

mp3: "The Opposite of Halleljah (live)" by Jens Lekman

1 comment:

Eduardo Osorio said...

Hi. Excellent review. I was surprised findinf word after word how I also feel about Jens. I didn't know his music until two weeks ago and now it's been pretty much impossible to take him out of my head. Glad I'm not the only one!