Jens Lekman and The Hopeless Romantic Preservation Society
Jens Lekman makes the best music to fall in love to. My favorite two songs of all time are The Beatles’ “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” and “She Loves You.” I might argue that these are the two best love songs of all time. However no record has ever been able to capture the way I feel about a girl I’m into then the track “You Are The Light” off Lekman’s first LP, ‘When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog. ‘ “You are the light by which I travel into this and that.” One of my favorite lines ever written. Looking at the line now I see why “this” and “that” are the perfect words. “This” and “that” mean absolutely nothing compared to “you.” But maybe the most important point the chorus of the song makes is that love has the power to illuminate.
If love can brighten our world, Jens Lekman bears its torch. The embers of hopeless romanticism may be dying out, but just when you need him, Lekman like Shelley’s Adonais comes along “with soft enamoured breath, [to rekindle] all the fading melodies.” That isn’t to say that Jens Lekman’s music is too derivative. People always mention Jonathan Richman and Stephen Merritt, but I think Jens’ music exists somewhere in between Richman’s innocence and Merritt’s jaded ’69 Love Songs.’
The reason I relate to Jens Lekman so much is it’s clear that the guy has had his heart broken into pieces a million times, but he still looks at the world through the eyes of a child. He still believes in a thing called love, and today, more than ever, we need people like that on our iPods, televisions, and computers to preserve the one thing worth saving on this planet.
Jens has a new EP out called ‘An Argument With Myself.’ It’s a fun record and you should definitely check it out. What makes this release different than previous ones is that besides being mostly upbeat, it features what sounds like professional musicians backing Jens. I’ve read some reviews that don’t like this aspect of the record. I’m not really sure why. Jens isn’t a mediocre musician. This isn’t like Johnny Marr joining Modest Mouse. The nicest instrumental touch on the album is the guitar on the title track that evokes Zimbabwean chimurenga music. The song sounds like The Bhundu Boys playing a Burt Bacharach record, but it’s also totally Jens at the same time. A testament to the originality of a songwriter is his or her ability to weave different influences together so seamlessly that you don’t notice the stitching.
Another aspect of Jens Lekman’s music that is more apparent than ever on this EP is that his music is entirely character driven. If you fall for Jens Lekman’s music you fall for Jens Lekman the person. His music is so tied to his daily life that he posted Google map images to his website showing where all five songs on the EP take place. But for all the heart on sleeve wearing in Jens Lekman’s music, there is absolutely nothing emo about him, which is proof that grown men can sing about love without Irony & Whine.
A big thing that sets Jens apart from the rest of the pack is he is a singer-songwriter that knows how to use strings and horns tastefully. I find often times in rock music that strings and horns are used to cover up the fact that the song itself sucks. A lot of musicians today think if you add enough layers to the mix it will make a good product, but where else does this logic ever apply? Too many colors and what do you get? That ugly juvenile brown. It’s no coincidence that loop is one letter away from poop. I like loops when done right though, and Jens does loops right. His samples are always effective and instead of hiding his weaknesses behind them, he uses them to further show that he has a natural ear for what sounds good.
Jens Lekman’s music emphasizes preservation in progression. His melodic and romantic sensibilities come from an older time, but like a good student of history, Lekman looks to the past to create the future. Sure, most of the music people listen to today goes womp womp or bleep bloop bleep, but we don’t have to give up good melodies just so we can dance, and we definitely don’t need to give up romance for modernity. Everything has its place in the modern world. Even an old soul hopeless romantic like Jens Lekman.
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