Jens Lekman – review

Ruby Lounge, Manchester

Jens Lekman's life seems to be a succession of romantic disasters. After each rejection, he works out until he can do 100 push-ups ("but I think I could do 200") and then pours it into "miserable" songs. With his funny cap and dancing with his eyes closed, he seems to be the person depicted in the Smiths' How Soon Is Now? – who goes to a club, stands on his own, goes home and wants to die.

"When you've had your heart broken, the world just shrugs," he croons. If this seems like an open invitation to kick sand in his face or tell him to "man up", it's part of a very entertaining act that sees the 31-year-old Swede combine James Taylor's sensitivity with Belle & Sebastian's soul, violins and deadpan, Woody Allen humour.

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This would have been his 500th gig, he explains, but he cancelled one once so it's only the 499th. The tragicomic I Know What Love Isn't is about the time he almost married a friend so he could stay in Australia. "I liked the idea of building a relationship on something more constructed than a feeling," he says, adding dryly, "but I realised I wouldn't be able to tell the story, because it would be illegal."

Postcard to Nina and Become Someone Else's are hopelessly romantic, lovely, pithily observant tunes, but Lekman and band draw on a wider range of music than the typical winsome singer-songwriter. He covers Ten City's house track That's the Way Love Is, and Golden Key (about a necklace) dips into the Stylistics' Can't Give You Anything But My Love and an electro dance excursion. "That song's about my very short time in the jewellery business," he quips, and the audience love him.


Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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