Jens Lekman, I Know What Love Isn’t

Marc Hogan

By Marc Hogan

Lead News Writer
on 09.04.12 in Reviews

On I Know What Love Isn’t, the Swedish singer-songwriter-producer pares back his musical template to suit a muted and downcast reflection on a breakup. Taking as influences such masterpieces of restraint as Pet Shop Boys’ subtly breathtaking Behaviour and Tindersticks’ soulfully stripped-down Simple Pleasure, Lekman retreats from the Avalanches-style excess of 2007′s brilliant Night Falls Over Kortedela and achieves something still richer, if also more emotionally bleak.

Rich and emotionally bleak

Past fans will find the easiest connection with the bouncy, string-flourishing piano-pop of election reminiscence “The End of the World Is Bigger Than Love” or the sham-marriage-proposing title track. But Lekman’s endearing wittiness shades toward hard-earned wisdom here, from the jazzy, Sinatra-referencing “Erica America” and exquisitely drip-dropping sax ballad “She Just Don’t Want to Be With You Anymore” to the two album book-ending tracks both titled “Every Little Hair Knows Your Name.” If there’s a unifying conceit, it’s what Lekman sings on tenderly poignant standout “The World Moves On”: “You don’t get over a broken heart/ You just learn to carry it gracefully.” No silver linings, just magnificent purple clouds.