Some Firecrackers Blow Up In Your Hand

Night Falls Over Kortedala by Jens Lekman

Sometimes it's hard to be sincere as an artist. The first time I listened to Night Falls Over Kortedala I kind of thought his music was cheesy; the strings, harps, his baritone, and strange lyrics all seemed incongruent (what exactly are "babies of snow"?). But sincerity is something that Jens is not short of, in the least. There is a rare kind of honesty in the way Lekman takes his life and transforms it into music, unabashedly turning his time spent in Kortedala into an album of pop songs.

The album opens with "And I Remember Every Kiss" and "Sipping on the Sweet Nectar", two songs that seem to be of the same thought. In "And I Remember Every Kiss" Jens sings "And I would never kiss anyone/Who doesn't burn me like the sun/And I remember every kiss/Like my first kiss" over a crescendo of strings, horns and timpani. As if a continuation of a thought, in "Sipping on the Sweet Nectar" Lekman sings "Remember your first kiss?/Well how can I forget" but regrets it, singing "I see myself on my deathbed saying/I wish I would have loved less". But after coming to the resolution of sipping on the sweet nectars of his memories, the album launches right into those memories.

The remaining ten songs on the album span a varying range of situations that Jens makes comically endearing and surprisingly relatable. In "The Opposite of Hallelujah" Jens narrates his (failed) struggle to convey his unending sorrow to his sister, while in "A Postcard to Nina" Jens finds himself in Nina's apartment, posing as her boyfriend and having dinner with her Catholic father to hide Nina's secret relationship with her girlfriend. Jens also describes accidentally cutting off his finger in "Your Arms Around Me", singing about "Shirin", a hairdresser from Iraq, vowing silence (and flirting with a deaf girl in sign language) in "It Was A Strange Time in My Life". Though I'd rarely find myself relating to any of these situations, it's hard to not relate to hearing someone say "It's the opposite of being you/You don't know what I'm going through", or to not be seduced by the encouragement of "Don't let anyone stand in your way". The album ends with "Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo", a place that Jens worked in for a short period of time (before immediately deciding he'd rather write music than be on hiatus working in a depressing bingo).

There is no shortage of sentimentality, either. In "Into Eternity" Jens unabashedly admits "If I had to choose a moment of time/To take with me into eternity/I'd choose this moment with you in my arms". In "I'm Leaving You Because I Don't Love You" he admits he's not in love, and sings "I'm so sorry I couldn't love you enough". "Kanske Ar Jag Kar I Dig" (meaning "Maybe I'm In Love With You") is easily the sweetest song on the album, in which Jens describes his awkwardness in trying to impress a girl he believes he's in love with, finally singing "I think I'm gonna drop my cool now/The best way to touch your heart is to make an ass of myself".

Nights Fall Over Kortedala is fearlessly sentimental, refreshingly honest and bravely adventurous. Musically, Jens blends an extraordinary range of genres and instruments, from doo wop and motown to beach-party disco, using anything from samples to horns. Though its hard to believe that someone can sing "We could start a little farm with little white bunnies/Just cause watching them copulate is very funny", it's hard not to enjoy it.

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