Jens Lekman – Oh You're So Silent Jens
Secretly Canadian, 2005
Acquired: Love Garden, New, 2008
This is the record I'd recommend to anyone who asked Jens who? It's a singles compilation, but I end up listening to it more than his proper LPs. “Maple Leaves” is his masterpiece, which is why there are two versions of it here. “Black Cab” (which also features a Left Banke sample) comes in a close second, and it's these two songs I think of when I think of Jens Lekman. It's the upbeat almost dancey pop of “Maple Leaves” with the lyrical undercurrent of sadness and misunderstanding that Lekman has mastered. “Black Cab” pokes at desolation, loneliness, etc all while being incredibly catchy. The arrangements are incredibly lush for someone working with so little (instrumentally). “A Sweet Summer's Night on Hammer Hill” is probably the third best song here, and perfect for the summertime with it's “can you hear the beat of my heart” chorus (and the bah-bah-bah-bahbahs that lead up to it). It seems as if all the songs are thrown together, given the stylistic diversity of the 17 tracks, yet there is something else going on here. It think this is designed to show how Lekman's brain works. How he can slow it down on “Someone to Share My Life With” or “Sky Phenomenon” and sing it with all earnestness without ever seeming sappy. Then he can be incredibly witty and charming as on “Maple Leaves” and “I Saw Her at the Anti-War Demonstration.” Based on this, I don't think anyone could have seen how great Jens Lekman's next record was going to be. Sure, we knew it was going to be good, but Lekman's masterpiece so soon? Well, it happened. And he pry has another one in him, given that homeboy has yet to release anything less than superb.