Jens Lekman : I Know What Love Isn’t
Oh, Jens. What has Melbourne done to you? Sweden’s sensitive crooner has always had a strain of melancholy, but it’s clear that his recent overseas experience has played havoc with his emotions. It also seems to have had an impact on how prolific he is, with a five-year gap between I Know What Love Isn’t and previous album Night Falls Over Kortedala.
It’s a shame we don’t get many songs on this album as enjoyable as An Argument With Myself or Waiting For Kirsten (from his most recent EP), but they would have felt a bit out of place nestled among these ten tracks. This is a breakup album and there are tears to be had, particularly in the album’s sobering centre and the opening/closing song Every Little Hair Knows Your Name.
Lekman still manages to make sad feelings fun, though. The lengthy The World Moves On is refreshingly Classic Jens, bopping along to a finger-snapping tune, but also fleshing out the full narrative of his doomed relationship during a sweltering Victoria summer. Then comes a song that surfaced on the internet a few years ago, the all-embracing The End Of The World Is Bigger Than Both Of Us, which celebrates life rather than analyses love. Despite almost being derailed by contrived giggling, the charming title track takes time out to cruise along Lygon St, rate girls and ponder the idea of a marriage of convenience.
Perhaps the biggest problem with I Know What Love Isn’t is not that it’s self-pitying (it’s a breakup album, that’s the point), it’s that the lack of playfulness and dynamics make the songs veer a little too close to linear MOR balladry. The lyrics show that Lekman hasn’t quite lost his lightheartedness, despite the subject matter, but here’s hoping he can lick his wounds and get back on track from his hometown, Gothenburg.
BY CHRIS GIRDLER
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