Friday, October 30, 2009

Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala Review

Night Falls Over Kortedala sounds effortless. It glides like a kite of angel wings on a soft summer breeze, all twinkling keys, kettle drum rolls, soaring strings and Lekman’s glorious croon. It belies the difficult genesis of the record. Three years in the making, the songs were honed live, written and rewritten until they sparkled. Lekman was so disenchanted at one point that he talked of retirement. We should all be thankful that he persevered.

I guess Jens Lekman is a singer-songwriter. That tag does him such a disservice, loaded as it is with images of acoustic guitars and a stripped-down, wooden authenticity. Yes, he writes and sings his own songs, but this is The Brill Building via Gothenburg, Tin Pan Alley retooled by a sampler and a vivid imagination.

Lekman writes and performs in heavenly technicolour. This is late '60s Scott Walker performed by The Magnetic Fields. The timpani roll and glistening strings of the opening “And I Remember Every Kiss” is built around a sparkling sample from easy listening violinist Enoch Light. Jens declares his allegiance to the sect of doom romantics, yearning in his dark baritone that every kiss burns with the passion of his first kiss.

“Sipping On The Sweet Nectar” is glorious, punchy brass, bleeping bass synths, and a sighing melody. The first single, “The Opposite Of Hallelujah,” with its handclaps and chopped out piano chords, is perfect. The chorus is as sticky as honey in a heat wave. I have woken up humming it twice this week. The wry observations of “A Postcard to Nina” make it the sort of song that no one, bar Jens, seems capable of writing. So witty and tender with a chorus of drunken trombones and children’s percussion, the doo-wop harmonies in the bridge alone would melt the hardest of hearts.

Lekman can produce musical gold from the strangest collusion of influences. The MOR strings and clipped drum samples of “If I Could Cry (It Would Feel Like This)” are the sort of thing Timbaland would have produced if he had been raised on indie 7” singles in Sweden—inventive, catchy and soulful.

This a wonderful record make sure you treasure it.

Tony Heywood (c)

First Published on Kev Chino -

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