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.

Originally posted on mxdwn.com 

Oh Yeah! I Write Music Reviews. Here's Antony & the Johnsons - Cut the World

If you thought that Cut the World, the newest album from Antony and the Johnsons would be an offering of new music to add to their catalogue, you would be wrong. Instead, Cut the World is a live recording of songs spanning their four studio album career. That’s not to say it’s a greatest hits album, rather, Antony Hegarty and company team up with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra lending symphonic beauty to an already harp-like voice. Part of Hegarty’s appeal is his raw, yet melodic voice–an amalgam of Nina Simone, Nico and Jens Lekman. This is put to particularly good use juxtaposed with the background of orchestral harmonies. The only exception being “Future Feminism,” which is seven minutes of spoken word discussing everything from sky gods to feminism.

Because of the soaring nature of the symphony, the entire album makes you feel as though you are floating on a cloud permeating the space between heaven and earth. The subtle melancholia interlaced throughout the album gives it further emotional depth. Notable standout tracks include “You Are My Sister,” the only new song on the album, “Cripple and the Starfish” and “I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy.” The latter two touch upon darker images with lyrics talking about the violence and brutality that love can sometimes bring. Interestingly, “I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy,” ends with the line, “Are you a boy or are you a girl?” alluding to the difficulties Hegarty has no doubt faced due to his transgender orientation.

Cut the World is a beautiful album, ethereal and angelic thanks to the orchestral arrangements and Antony Hegarty’s willowy voice. For longtime fans, the album allows for familiar songs to become new again. For first time listeners, Cut the World offers an otherworldly musical escape.

You can read more of my reviews at mxdwn.com