I Know What Love Isn’t
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
A songwriter is often only as good as the stories he tells, and Jens Lekman’s stories are blockbuster epics in themselves. He spins yarns about ordinary, personal, even mundane topics, but when sprinkled with his special blend of humor and intimate detail, they take on the properties of great fiction. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that the Swedish singer-songwriter knows his way around an unforgettable, elegantly arranged melody. On I Know What Love Isn’t, Lekman stacks up nine tracks of love and loss that tug at the heartstrings while frequently eliciting a chuckle, each teardrop chased by a hearty guffaw. On “The End of the World Is Bigger Than Love,” Lekman consoles his broken heart by having it trumped by the biggest potential event of humankind, which also happens to be “bigger than the spider, floating in your cider.” But no single track here is as overstuffed with one-liners as “The World Moves On,” in which Lekman states, “No one’s born an asshole, it takes a lot of hard work/ and God knows I’ve worked my ass off to be such a jerk.” But between the song’s mixture of lyrical zingers and highlife-inspired guitar riffs, Lekman gets to the vulnerable heart of the matter: “You don’t get over a broken heart/ you just learn to carry it gracefully.” That’s really the album in a nutshell: a broken heart carried with poise, good humor and endless charm.