Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Jens Lekman

  • Night Falls Over Kortedala [Secretly Canadian, 2007] A-
  • An Argument With Myself [Secretly Canadian EP, 2011] A
  • I Know What Love Isn't [Secretly Canadian, 2012] ***

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Night Falls Over Kortedala [Secretly Canadian, 2007]
In a time when pop retro is split between neotrad rat-packers like Michael Bublé and faux-ironic blowhards like Richard Hawley, this Swede traffics in feeling. With their accented lyrics and melodies from wherever, his fact-filled love songs--foiled picnicker wakes up in a grubby ER with the girl whose sneak hug put him there, minor pop singer falls for the lesbian who enlisted him as her beard while fending off her father with auto-replies--seem completely innocent of the busy posturing of hepcats and blowhards. Loaded with talent, heart and personality, he's an eccentric who still thinks the world is his friend, and one more sweet argument for the civilized compromises of democratic socialism. A-

An Argument With Myself [Secretly Canadian EP, 2011]
I really like this choirboy manque, which part of me says isn't the point and another says is too. I like how gentle he is, how decent he is, how observant he is, how funny he is. The first three songs on this EP are strong, the fourth misty, the fifth sweet and slight, but all know melody and all fill out a portrait of a young man your daughter should only bring home to mother. He's so talented and caring that when he spends the entirety of the title cut berating himself--laughingly, to an adapted Congolese beat, as he obsesses on a romance gone awry while walking the streets because he doesn't have enough cab money to go cry in bed--it's clearly a temporary setback. Most likable is "A Promise," to a Chilean friend trapped in the toils of Sweden's deteriorating healthcare system. Gothenburg's gotten meaner and he knows it. A

I Know What Love Isn't [Secretly Canadian, 2012]
Lost affair leaves him mooning, melodic as ever but too crestfallen to do anything about it ("The World Moves On," "The End of the World Is Bigger Than Love") ***