September 18, 2012


You Need to Know: Witty, Melancholy Swedish Troubadour Jens Lekman

Wendy Redfern
Wendy Redfern

Jens Lekman is a 31-year-old singer-songwriter from Sweden, whose new album, I Know What Love Isn't, is a must. Here's why...

Dude knows his way around a string-laden melancholy pop hook and he uses the English language perhaps better, but certainly different from, the average native singer; his heartbroken lyrics are nuanced and steeped in rhymes, idioms and a talk-sing not often found in indie music. The final product is a marriage of Camera Obscura or Belle and Sebastian's twee romanticisms with the shot-of-love honesty of Magnetic Fields singer Stephin Merritt. Not a bad mix, eh.

He's also not particularly prolific, either; since 2004, the Swede has released only two solo LPs—2004’s When I Said I Wanted to Be Your Dog and 2007’s Night Falls Over Kortedala. I first fell for Lekman's music when I heard "When I Said I Wanted to Be Your Dog," a gorgeous, minor-chord-filled love song for his dog ("My only friend," sings Lekman before a horn solo). Night Falls Over Kortedala continued with sweet pop postcards like "The Opposite of Hallelujah."

But I Know What Love Isn't is different; recorded after a particularly painful breakup, the LP finds Lekman unable to make light of his heartbreak. The blanket of protective LOL-worthy lyrics have been pulled back to show just one beaten dude, and the songs are all the better for it. Listen to two faves, "Erica America" and "I Know What Love Isn't," at Paste

Like him!?!? Tell me in the comments below.