Album Review

Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala

Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala

Had he come along in 1970, Jens Lekman would have been covering Jimmy Webb songs and finding a way to make them even more perverse (I'm thinking "MacArthur Park" here). Today, Lekman perfectly fits a niche for those who favor left-field drama with their pop. Combine the writerly tendencies of Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt with Sufjan Stevens' bittersweet whimsy, plus a dash of Morrissey's Euro-mope tendencies, add lush symphonic orchestration, stir and simmer, and here's what you get: an album that declares right upfront, "I will never kiss anyone who doesn't burn me like the sun," and lives up to it. That sounds precious and twee, but Night Falls Over Kortedala (a reference to Lekman's hometown in Sweden) displays the artist's flawless command of every last syllable, sound and flourish, with impressive attention to detail. "Sipping On The Sweet Nectar" makes Lekman's aesthetic kinship with Webb overt by sampling "By The Time I Get To Phoenix". And "I'm Leaving You Because I Don't Love You" pairs a piano hook that (consciously or not) echoes Laura Nyro's "Wedding Bell Blues" with lyrics that are the Nyro song's polar opposite. Some of these songs are detailed enough to work as short-story prose, especially "A Postcard To Nina", which practically reads like an Ang Lee screenplay: Singer beards for lesbian friend, only to have her father decide he's his new best friend, and chaos ensues. If this never actually happened, it sounds as if it should have.