Jens Lekman drops his fourth full-length album on a waiting world. The Swedish songwriter has really cranked up the rhythms here on Life Will See You Now, toying with samba and bossa nova among other styles. That means you get the witty intimacy of Lekman’s songs in a lively danceable format: lovely. CD / LP / cassette release on Secretly Canadian.
7/10 Robin Staff review, 14 February 2017
From ‘Oh You’re So Silent Jens’ to ‘Will You Please Turn That EDM Down Jens I’m Trying To Sleep’ in just four albums. Impressive. If you struggle with the more treacly and over-arranged parts of Jens Lekman -- the parts that make Belle & Sebastian sound triumphantly economical -- then you are going to fucking hate ‘Life Will See You Now’. It is buoyant and proud of it, that opening drumbeat on “To Know Your Mission” eagerly waiting to break into its shit-club beat, sugar synth chords and pantomimic piano. Its climax is Christmas; it’s a pretty song decorated in so many baubles it falls down from fatigue.
I take some umbrage. I made the mistake of watching Lekman perform some of these tracks here and there in the bowels of Youtube, where he was playing them out or for little website tapings. There, with his acoustic guitar and nothing more, you could actually hear the songs as they were written. Lekman has fun with his arrangements, but his overeagerness for every single sound in existence tends to bury everything underneath. “Hotwire the Ferriswheel” is one of his best ever songs, twisting a song about depression into a piece of joy culminating in a lyric of meaningful meta: “I said okay if I write a song about this I won’t make it a sad song / it’ll go like this - woo!”. In its acoustic form it played this part out with a beautiful irony, keeping things melancholy and then twisting the knife -- here, among a thousand admonishments, it sounds kinda like Flight of the Conchords.
I still love the way Lekman tells stories and often what he sprinkles on them, too. The piano rolls and string swells of “How Can I Tell Him” are the perfect accompaniment, built into the song as if to give the narrator’s experience all-important cinematics. “Postcard 17” places a piano motif on its ricocheting beat, calling back to focused sparsity he made good on with tunes like “A Pocketful of Money”. When he’s trying these things in bits and pieces, you can hear how brilliant he truly is, and how good his twee can actually be -- when he goes for everything at once, as on the incessantly cloying “Evening Prayer”, I’m happy to turn off and take a timeout on music for a few years. How's the ratio on this? About 7/10.
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- Life Will See You Now by Jens Lekman
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