03 January 2008
Night Falls Over Kortedala - Jens Lekman (Review)
Release date: 10/9/2007
Jens Lekman draws your angled hips and consistently sells out your local discotheque. Born in Angered, Sweden, one would argue his relaxed demeanor makes him a soothing enigma. After three years and two albums on aptly named host label Secretly Canadian, Night Falls Over Kortedala has emerged in late 2007, creating a seal over his acclaimed singles and EP collection Oh You’re So Silent Jens. The work has quickly dissipated through elitist madness and obtained approval from the prerequisite reputable judges, considered an indie-pop modern masterpiece though it will lose steam considerably in the coming years. It exists within the context of a 70s nostalgia and warped necessity to break convention while remaining subtle. Though talent-ridden and directly desirable by all means, Lekman abuses the album’s strength to amend a well-ironed production, leaving permanent wrinkles.
The background instrumentation of tender strings and accordion glows with refreshing variety and illuminates Lekman’s illusory tone. Jens ranges vocal textures within a comfort zone begging complacency. Worse yet are the conversational lyrics that bleed sincerity without emotion, a component to the music both dry and annoying. With considerable drawbacks and wonderful successes, Night Falls is disjointed. The charmingly sweet “Shirin” displays Lekman’s finest musical characteristics. His guitar tempo shifts in and out of phase with warm harmonies, complementing his singing duties. On numerous occasions, Lekman stays within his capable range and constructs instant hits like “The Opposite of Hallelujah” or “And I Remember Every Kiss.” The thundering drums and stunning string arrangements on “Every Kiss” attract with urgency, while the catchy, playful bounce of “Hallelujah” develops a loving beat that exudes affection. They evoke impressions of epic eminence to prove Lekman is more than capable.
However, the fleeting half-life of Night Falls stems from deliberate tampering and a considerable void in vocal purity. Intentional reduction in production quality reveals choppy sample loops (“Kanske Är Jag Kär I Dig”) and several separate snippets of record player rustling (“It Was a Strange Time in My Life”) juxtaposed against the marvelous soundscapes encompassing the remainder of the album. The cleanliness is wholesome and desirable, distilling temperamental tracks like the sporty “Into Eternity” and enhancing their appeal. When cleansed of imperfection, the music is often gorgeous and stands out above Lekman’s vocals. Throughout Night Falls, this inconsistency creates both charm and chagrin.
Lekman’s voice is such a heavy consideration because of his distinct tone. He becomes ineffectual when the lyrics become clever, but his humble work produces enjoyment. “Your Arms Around Me” lets Jens work within his element around harp, heavy claps, and a cheery guitar while delivering a musical embrace. At times in the absence of humility, Lekman’s work suffers a great deal.
Night Falls Over Kortedala will not be remembered in five years with the same exuberance as it is today. Lekman’s potential to annoy dwindles the replay value of his compositions but his musical talents will keep his head well above water. To be sure, Night Falls is worth a listen, and you will gain a few of the finest singles from 2007.