Conversation has been a staple of Jens Lekman’s work from the get-go. Most of the songs in his fifteen-year-deep career contain dialogue, and the one track on ‘Life Will See You Now’ without additional characters (‘Postcard #17’) sees him talk to himself when no-one is around. It seems perverse, then, that his music often deals in a search for truth usually associated with intense introspection. For Lekman, profundity is not something that comes soberly, alone. It is revealed through communion, laughter and in the moments when the questions one has been asking oneself find answers in unlikely places.
Lekman’s playfully postmodern songwriting sands the edges off of topics that could otherwise be stale or rote. Take ‘How We Met, The Long Version’ in which ‘the long version’ is literally everything that has happened in the history of the universe up until the moment Jens met his partner. The instance where he comes to her apartment, ostensibly to borrow her bass guitar but really to initiate the affair, turns a track that had previously seemed an exercise in quirk into something funny and moving. Elsewhere Tracey Thorn duet ‘Hotwire the Ferris Wheel’ is a lovely Magnetic Fields-type ballad in which a couple literally make as the title says, and I doubt you will hear a more sprightly song about the removal of a tumour than ‘Evening Prayer’.
On the likes of ‘How We Met’ and ‘Wedding in Finistere’, Ewan Pearson’s production flushes Lekman’s narratives just the right amount of rose-tint. At other times they miss the mark – the Millennial-pop sheen of ‘Evening Prayer’ is a little heavy-handed, while ‘Our First Fight’ is forgettable elevator indie. ‘Life Will See You Now’ is not as consistently excellent as works like ‘Night Falls Over Kortedala’, and at times one wonders if Lekman would benefit by transplanting the idiosyncrasies of his lyricism onto his instrumentals. That said, he continues to apply himself to his craft with a winning combination of wit and curiosity that frequently strikes gold.