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Jens Lekman : I Know What Love Isn’t

Being a dyed-in-the-wool pragmatist, I can’t help but feel a certain admiration for Swedish singer-songwriter Jens Lekman. The guy tells it like it is -no niceties, no sugar coating- and in doing so somehow manages to sound like the coolest man in the world. On his third studio LP I Know What Love Isn’t, he shamelessly proposes marriage to his best friend as a way to stay in the country and tells a jilted lover that a broken heart is not the end of the world “because the end of the world is bigger than love”; it’s the kind of rare, no-nonsense practicality that should be applauded but, coming from someone like me, would most likely result in little more than a withering look from the wife and possibly a night on the couch. Fortunately for him, Lekman’s songwriting balances that blunt matter-of-factness and barbed cynicism with a poetic eloquence and self-deprecating wit on a par with the likes of Morrissey and Costello. But whilst one might expect this aloof charmer act to have the ladies eating out of the palm of his hand, Lekman’s lyrics routinely paint an entirely different picture; almost all of his (largely autobiographical) songs end up with our hero nursing wounds either emotional or physical after misreading the signals or saying the wrong thing to a girl (or her boyfriend. Or girlfriend), and I Know What Love Isn’t documents some of his biggest misadventures yet. “The World Moves On” finds Lekman rolling around on a kitchen floor clutching a bag of frozen peas after a beating from a guy on a scooter, reaching the conclusion that “you don’t get over a broken heart/ You just learn to carry it gracefully”, but whilst this is ostensibly an album about a messy break-up and its even messier aftermath we’re also treated to tales of times the singer spent in Las Vegas, Washington DC and Melbourne, Australia, and an odd incident where he received a tribute in song form from his teenage idol, Everything But The Girl’s Tracy Thorn. Set to a backdrop of easy-listening lounge pop (check out the sax solo in “Erica America”), gambolling country-rock (“Become Someone Else’s”), disco-lite and the kind of sweeping melodrama that the Swedes do so well (the ABBA-esque “Some Dandruff On Your Shoulder”), I Know What Love Isn’t is Lekman’s most cohesive and – dare we say – mature effort yet; he might be the last person you’d want to ask for romantic advice, but when it comes to finding the humour in heartbreak there’s nobody out there right now that does it better than Jens.

I Know What Love Isn’t is out September 3 via Secretly Canadian; listen to the title track below, and the whole album over at The Quietus.

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About foamhands

My name is Michael Dix; I'm a decade or so past being down with the kids, but to me new music never gets old. Apparently I like music that sounds like faulty kitchen appliances and ritual slaughter; really I just like what I like, whether that happens to be indie, pop, punk, hip hop, metal, electronica, Afrobeat or jazz. Follow me on Twitter @FoamHandsBlog to receive notifications of new posts and the occasional random brain-fart, and please share links wherever you can. Enjoy!

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