It’s been more than four years since the last Jens Lekman album, years in which, by his own account, he struggled to make music that seemed worthwhile. His muse was rekindled in 2015, when he decided to write a song for each week, and it’s burning brightly on his fourth, brilliant full-length. Like Orange Juice did decades ago, he’s made the journey from spindly, insular indiepop to glorious, primary-coloured music, explicitly referencing 80s chart hits, soul, funk and disco. (Co-producer Ewan Pearson, who has a midas touch for this stuff, perhaps had a hand in the bright sound.) The contrast with Lekman’s mordant lyrics – “How I prayed that I could stop the pain / When the pain needed more than ibuprofen,” he sings on Evening Prayer, a joyous disco stomper about a tumour – makes it, at times, desperately moving. But oh!, those pop hooks: anyone who doesn’t feel the need to leap in the air for the “Five-year-old watching the 10-year-olds shoplifting / 10-year-old watching the 15-year-olds french kissing” chorus of Wedding in Finistère can surely have no love for life.
Michael Hann is a freelance writer, and former music editor of the Guardian