Life Will See You Now
I’ll confess to a bit of a soft-spot for Jens Lekman when I first heard him a decade or so ago – and it was via a collection of singles and previously released tracks reshuffled to a compilation that I could enjoy the pure-pop vision of the Swedish indie songwriter. The lyrics were quirky, transliterations of a sort, so there was some element of surprise – or something. It was short-lived. I forgot about him quickly.
But everyone has been gushing about this brand new album – which takes pop-optimism (poptimism?) to soaring new levels; here are ten songs just about screaming for a new season of Scrubs so they can be montage-soundtracks with a whole-cast chorus for the music video. I do not understand the appeal at all.
With LouLou Lamotte things hit an early disco-camp peak (low) on Evening Prayer. LouLou is on the first two tracks and then Tracey Thorn pops up for Hotwire The Ferris Wheel. She can’t save this from sounding hopelessly melodramatic with strings distilled to a syrup, Lekman has put together an EBTG-sounding song for Thorn to share. And maybe it’s the high point of the album. Which isn’t great.
Elsewhere you’ll have people telling you that this is lovely and hopeful and happy but all I hear is a bunch of songs that want to touch on the Belle & Sebastian and Beautiful South-isms of the 90s and back towards the late 80s, but the carnival/disco tropes (What’s That Perfume That You Wear?) are as ear-grating as M People.
It’s a contrived form of sincerity, an insincere sincerity.
Hopelessly, artlessly upbeat and posturing.
I can’t take it seriously. And even if you’re not supposed to do that at all I still can’t get on board with it. There’s a play on naivety here that I can only hear as guileless and concocted, contrived – and the songs are empty gestures at best.