Jens Lekman: I Know What Love Isn’t

Jens Lekman, I Know What Love Isn'tJens Lekman: I Know What Love Isn’t
There are a couple of techniques an artist can utilize to highlight certain songs on a album: sometimes there will be a titular track, sometimes a song will have a separate prelude track, but rarely do you see both techniques used on a single album. Jens Lekman has never been one to limit himself.

I Know What Love Isn’t is Lekman’s third full length album. It is, also, the title of the album’s ninth track. It is interesting because had it not been the titular track, I may not have given it a second look. The first verse finds Jens singing in his standard “I’m the Morrissey of Sweden” croon about driving around with a friend cruising for chicks–not the activity I would expect from the soft-spoken Swede. The second verse is about getting married for a green card. As with most things Lekman, the summary of the verse is nothing compared to the beauty of his words. Lekman sings “Let’s get married” to which a woman laughs. He retorts “I’m serious/but only for the citizenship/I’ve always liked the idea of it.” Then Lekman opens up the broader lessen of the song, “a relationship doesn’t lie/about its intentions and shit/About how it doesn’t apologize/or anthologize/all the rules and ideas.”

But the lyrical beauty of the titular track is one upped by the other highlighted track on I Know What Love Isn’t. The album is bookended by tracks called “Every Little Hair Knows Your Name.” The opening “Every Little Hair Knows Your Name” is an instrumental piano tune giving the theme of the song. The closing “Every Little Hair Knows Your Name” is the actual song. The actual song is a sparsely instrumented acoustic guitar track with Lekman getting his croon on over it. In the second verse, Lekman pens what might be his most potently heartbreaking stanza yet. Lekman takes the old adage to heart and starts with a joke: “When we broke up/I started to work out/I can do one hundred pushups/I could do probably do two if I was bored.” After the joke comes the slightly more serious stuff: “I wrote some songs when we broke up/but nothing came out so I stopped/every chord I struck was a miserable chord/like an F minor eleventh/or an E flat major seventh/it all sounds the same/every chord knows your name.”

For songwriters, hearing this half stanza has to evoke rage. The words are so simple yet they describe a complex emotional situation. Moreover, they summarize what Jens Lekman does so well: heart felt insouciance. Depending on the listener’s mood, his words can evoke anything from a smile to a sob. His ability is in full effect on I Know What Love Isn’t and it makes it one of Lekman’s most successful albums to date.
Rating: 9.7/10
MP3: Jens Lekman “Every Little Hair Knows Your Name”
Buy: iTunes or Insound! vinyl