Album Review: Jens Leckman - I Know What Love Isn't

Jens Lekman’s 2007 album, Night Falls Over Kortedala, can only be described as linguistically witty, slightly melancholic and whimsical. His most recent, I Know What Love Isn’t, follows in the same vein, but with a noted turn toward a more somber, simplistic aesthetic.

Born out of a breakup, the ten songs on I Know What Love Isn’t aren’t as uniformly uplifting and bouncy as it’s predecessor. There are no string sections on this album, instead, sweet piano riffs and simple melodies. Vocally, Lekman sounds like Morrissey if Morrissey was having a great day and was less melancholic.

Despite the heavier emotions being dealt with on this album, Lekman doesn’t let the sadness take over. The whole album is an optimistic look at picking yourself up when your heart has been broken. On the track “The World Moves On,” this is summed up quite nicely with the lyric, “You don’t get over a broken heart / you just learn to carry it gracefully.” This simple epiphany permeates throughout the album and helps keep away the typical reactions of anger and despair that constitute so many breakup albums.

After soft album openers “Every Little Hair Knows Your Name” and “Erica America,” “Become Someone Else’s” showcases the first upbeat track of the album. This is in stark contrast to the lyrical content but is more in line with his previous musical offerings. From there, the music slowly grows in confidence, almost as if the first few songs happened at the start of the breakup and the rest of the album showcases the recovery. Other notable tracks include, “Some Dandruff on Your Shoulder,” “I Want a Pair of Cowboy Boots” and “The End of the World is Bigger Than Love.”

At it’s core, Jens Lekman’s newest album has an optimistic message that is relatable for anyone who’s been through a bad breakup. Musically, the songwriting and vocals are strong and relish in a simplicity that Night Falls Over Kortedala didn’t have.

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