Jens Lekman’s pretty deft at making folks weak in the knees with his charming blog tales and soulful, smart (and often silly) Swedish croon. On his third album Gothenburg’s most important non-melodic death metal export may also cause a bit o’ swooning with his newfound (relative) self-control: Night Falls Over Kortedala doesn’t include Calvin Johnson samples, the “F-Word,” or the shaggy collagist feel of 2005’s Oh You’re So Silent Jens comp; instead, back from the department of forgotten song, the sweetly melancholic one hones his skills, tightens the leash, and writes a dozen, gleefully catchy tunes that add up to his strongest, most accomplished song cycle.
No, not every tune’s a winner, and we’re unsure if anything can top “Maple Leaves” or “Black Cab,” but the storytelling’s sharper, the emotion’s more refined. Plus, it’s difficult not to fall under the spell of an album that opens with something as exultantly, dramatically Sirkian as “And I Remember Every Kiss,” sporting lines like “I swear I’ll never kiss anyone / Who doesn’t burn me like the sun / And I will cherish every kiss, like my first kiss.” Goddamn do we ever want to see 50 Cent write shit like “you get a gun and you name it after a girlfriend.”
We’ve posted “The Opposite Of Hallelujah” with its oceanic pathos (“I picked up a seashell to illustrate my homelessness, / but a crab crawled out of it, making it useless / And all my metaphors fell flat, down on the rocks where we sat”), the album’s first single “Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo,” and mentioned our love for the sparkling, Lion Sleep-y live favorite “A Postcard To Nina” (which, come to think of it, does rank with “Maple Leaves,” et al). These are all clues as to what you should expect on the other ten tracks: That Magnetic/Moz-like dry humor set to doo-wop and a.m. radio and twee pop.
Thematically, much of the material deals with kisses and memory (head immediately to “Sipping On The Sweet Nectar” for a bit of both!), as if Lekman looked back upon the older dusky, belled ballad “Someone to Share My Life With” and opted to expand the thesis some with lived experiences, rather than with wishes and conjecture.
Let’s take another look at that artwork. If only our haircuts were so blissful…
Night Falls Over Kortedala is out 9/5 on Service records in Scandinavia and 10/9 in US on Secretly Canadian.