Jens Lekman: I Know What Love Isn’t

Jens Lekman
I Know What Love Isn’t
(Secretly Canadian)

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Jens Lekman has always been a little mopey. I Know What Love Isn’t is his break-up album though. It’s his Blue; his Sea Changes. So it’s fair to say this is his most somber effort to date. That’s not to say it’s an album full of dirge-like ballads. It’s mostly melodic, medium-tempo pop tunes. In classic Jens fashion, there are plenty of lyrics that crack you up and break your heart at the same time (“I started working out when we broke up/I could do one hundred push-ups/I could probably do two if I was bored”). He’s toned the humor down though and become more profound. The overall tone of the music is a little darker too, like when people go through an artsy phase and start taking a bunch of pictures with the sepia setting on their digital cameras. Where he used to employ string sections he settles for a single violin or a moody saxophone. He hasn’t thrown away his bag of tricks yet though. A song like “The End of The World is Bigger Than Love” is what the word “lush” was invented for. Then there’s “The World Moves On,” easily the best song on the album. Musically it’s surprisingly funky, with white-James Brown drum breaks and really excellent utilization of a flute. Over the dense arrangements Lekman expounds on all the aspects of heartbreak. The pain, the sadness, the humor, the absurdity, and the self-realization. As always, Jens Lekman illustrates how the small details that feel so personal are universal to the human condition. On I Know What Love Isn’t, more than ever, he looks deeper into himself and ends up writing songs about all of us.

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