Expectations are high every time Jens Lekman releases a project. As one of the most prolific artists in indie pop today, he has divulged in nearly everything the genre has to offer while designing and paving a way for others to follow in his footsteps. Although his latest album may not be a complete redesign, it may be his best so far.
Jens Lekman, a Swedish singer-songwriter, took the music world by storm with his 2007 hit album Night Falls Over Kortedala. The record incorporated baroque and chamber pop to create a happy, romantic and playful yet bittersweet recording. Five years later, Lekman released I Know What Love Isn’t, taking on a more subdued and sophisticated approach to music and storytelling but alienating a fan base that loved his sappy, accessible and often humorous songs. Now, he’s combined the two to create a behemoth of an album, titled Life Will See You Now, using influences from Balearic music to create an impressive yet playful LP.
In between I Know What Love Isn’t and this record, Lekman tried to make a follow-up but found that it “sounded like (he) had given up.” Instead, he launched his Postcards series, a promise to himself to release a song a week for a year, not only pushing his abilities as a songwriter but requiring him to not overthink his music and bury it in layers of production and perfection.
The result led to this LP, and it certainly shows in the record’s style — many songs freely flow and take on a small life of their own. The album’s lead single, “What’s That Perfume That You Wear?,” is a prime example of this. It begins with a country-esque simple guitar riff but eventually expands to include a variety of instruments, making it feel like one of the most playful songs on the project.
These instruments that Lekman implements may be strange, but they heavily contribute to his transition back into the musical limbo he once dominated. Life Will See You Now is much more colorful than its preceding work, bringing in simple yet effective drum machines in a Balearic beat style to lull in the background of several songs. Slow, heavy pulses combined with a lot of Latin American and soul influences help craft this album’s core sound.
Some instruments such as the twangy steel drums of “What’s That Perfume You Wear?” pop up here and there with not as much consistency as Lekman’s drum machines. Incorporating that steel drum proves to be difficult and makes the track a challenging listen at first, but after a couple tries, it becomes a core element of the song and a surprise to look forward to with each spin.
The first three tracks on Life Will See You Now feature guest artists, which is something Lekman has never attempted before. The first two tracks bring on LouLou Lamotte, a Swedish singer-songwriter from the band Soulectric. Her voice doesn’t necessarily carry these songs but adds another element to keep up the intrigue. Although Lamotte does an impressive job with her singing parts, the third and final feature on this album is Lekman’s most intriguing. Bringing on Tracey Thorn of Everything but the Girl, Lekman uses Thorn’s more electronic and folk origins to bring a new flavor to “Hotwire the Ferris Wheel,” something that has never been featured in a song of his before.
Toward the end of Life Will See You Now, the record can feel slightly repetitive. But with multiple listens, it’s easy to discover the subtler samples on each song, making each one a pretty exciting experience within itself. As a whole, Life Will See You Now is Lekman’s most impressive record yet, making it an essential listen for almost all fans of music.
Life Will See You Now
- Genre: Indie/Alternative
- Rating: 8/10