Jens Lekman – I Know What Love Isn’t

written by: September 24, 2012
Album-Cover-I-Know-What-Love-Isn't-Jens-Lekman Release Date: September 10th, 2012


Misery loves company. And in this case, the “company” is Jens Lekman’s latest album I Know What Love Isn’t. This is the first we’ve heard from the Swedish native in five years; and based on the album’s theme, Lekman’s last few years have held the lion’s share of heartbreak.

Without doubt, Lekman has a gift for making breakups seem funny and uplifting. Above all else, his talent lies in his clever lyrics and his ability to tell a story. (His track titles, alone, are indications of his wit —”Every Little Hair Knows Your Name” and “Some Dandruff on Your Shoulder.”) He takes melancholic, depressing material and mixes it with his dry sense of humor and wordsmithing. It’s as if each song casually continues through a very literal conversation about love and breakups—two areas of which Lekman speaks like a veteran. “Loving without loving is always the worst crime / I know all the signs and signals ‘cause now I’ve been on both sides / The way you choose your words, the limpness of your hand / I almost died when you introduced me as a friend,” he sings in “The World Moves On.”

In typical Lekman fashion, tracks throughout the album draw on ‘70s-esque hooks, as he weaves in strings, piano and occasional an flute and saxophone to make the music have an encompassing feel. I Know What Love Doesn’t Look Like opens with a solo acoustic guitar in “Every Little Hair Knows Your Name.” While he’s setting the tone for the album in this song, Lekman sings as if he’s catching up with the woman he’s just broken up with: “I started working out when we broke up / I can do 100 push-ups / I could probably two if was bored.”

Listeners don’t have to put Lekman’s work under a microscope to pick up on his Belle and Sebastian influence—his vocals parallel those of Stuart Murdoch. There is also a Kooks/Sufjan Stevens feel to many of his songs, as well. He utilizes an interesting mix of instruments to create a dreamy, out-of-this-decade sound. For example, in “Erica America,” along with the flurrying of strings, there’s also a saxophone solo toward the end of the song. He orchestrates the album with a diverse palette of instruments—it’s definitely not the typical guitar-bass-drums line-up.

What is probably Lekman’s best observation and/or piece of advice on the album: “You don’t get over a broken heart. You just learn to carry it gracefully,” he sings in “The World Moves On.” I Know What Love Doesn’t Look Like takes an interesting perspective on losing love. It might not be the most appropriate album to listen to hours after a weepy breakup; but when you’re ready for a good laugh and your misery needs some company, reach for I Know What Love Isn’t.


Jens Lekman – I Know What Love Isn’t Look Like tracklist:

  1. “Every Little Hair Knows Your Name”
  2. “Erica America”
  3. “Become Someone Else’s”
  4. “She Just Don’t Want to be with You Anymore”
  5. “Some Dandruff on Your Shoulder”
  6. “I Want a Pair of Cowboy Boots”
  7. “The World Moves On”
  8. The End of the World Is Bigger Than Love
  9. “I Know What Love Isn’t”
  10. “Every Little Hair Knows Your Name”