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Lekman, Jens - Night Falls Over Kortedala
|Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala|
Record Label: Secretly Canadian
Release Date: October 8, 2007
I honestly can't tell who the person Jens Lekman is of our generation. His fantastic voice gives a nod in the direction of Frank Sinatra. His geeky subject matter leans towards Elvis Costello. His goofy romantic tales go hand-in-hand with Stephin Merritt (The Magnetic Fields). His sweet love grooves bring back memories of Marvin Gaye and various other Motown artists. His commanding confidence is reminiscent of Morrissey. His sincerity matches just about all of them, with an equal measure of dopey cheeseball narratives and soaring string arrangements. While initial listens may dissuade one from falling in love with this seemingly naïveté nincompoop, his witty lyricism rings true, even when it comes to self-deprecation; "The best way to touch your heart / Is to make an ass out of myself" ("Kanske Är Jag Kär I Dig").
Despite what some of his most ardent fans would suggest, Lekman can be a tough nut to crack. "And I Remember Every Kiss" is easily the most bombastic thing you'll hear all year (sorry Arcade Fire), and that's just the first track. Horns explode, drums boom, and Lekman's vocals rocket like a firework, bursting outwards wide and colorful all the same . It's not until you actually listen to the lyrics that you're sucked in by this earnest and ornamented song. Lekman is one of the few artists who can magnify a small time situation into a love-and-death circumstance. The album, while inspired by a little 'hood in his home country of Sweden, feels like it could be about every mature relationship that has ever existed in the 21st century. Lekman consistently maintains his knack for all encompassing epic narratives, even when he whips out side-splitting quips about a quaint Friday night drive-in bingo trip.
I can't even begin to explain why this music affects me so. If anybody else on the entire planet attempted this kind of buffoonery in a sudden death karaoke match, they'd swiftly come neck-to-steel with the guillotine. A person who is so confident in his tales of low self-esteem is incredibly hard to come by. Costello hit the right pleasure centers when he stuck with rock and roll and Merritt survived by immersing a majority of his material in total camp. Even Paul Smith (Maxïmo Park) kept his humor to a minimum to maintain a reputation (which turned out to be a bit too dull on their latest album). Jens Lekman defies all precedent by succeeding where his former compatriots didn't dare go, sparkling brighter than anyone else before him along the way. He's the perfect pop anomaly, another hyperbole statement I'll have to swallow.
Lekman was born with a thinner skin than what I've implied so far. There are some instantly appealing songs that won't get you a wedgie on the playground, like "The Opposite of Hallelujah", which could very feature Linus Van Pelt plinking away on the piano keys. "A Postcard to Nina" slips on something comfortable and croons humorously about a tense meeting with a girlfriend's father, Meet the Parents (Not Fockers) style. Lekman can even achieve a sudden frank tone on the obviously titled "I'm Leaving You Because I Don't Love You." His majestic scope not only applies to what he's singing about, but how he sings as well.
This is probably the only modern indie artist you could take home to your family (sorry Frank Black). Night Falls Over Kortedala samples many of the 50s-70s classic string arrangements and it comes complete with a day-glo sheen. Hell, your grandparents could probably see where Lekman is coming from. But would anyone born after the inception of MTV understand the allure of such a commanding singer/songwriter (who puts a tantamount emphasis on both)? Unfortunately, it's doubtful, especially due to Lekman’s frail exterior and apparently fallacious and giddy baritone. The mainstream has typically failed to see the humor in the details and Lekman is exactly the kind of man who falls outside the former section of the sentence. Who writes songs about their barber, an ex-lover's inhaler, or small towns in Sweden? Only one esteemed man could: The Jens Lekman of our generation.
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