Jens Lekman, I Know What Love Isn’t
Rich and emotionally bleak
On I Know What Love Isn’t, the Swedish singer-songwriter-producer pares back his musical template to suit a muted and downcast reflection on a breakup. Taking as influences such masterpieces of restraint as Pet Shop Boys’ subtly breathtaking Behaviour and Tindersticks’ soulfully stripped-down Simple Pleasure, Lekman retreats from the Avalanches-style excess of 2007′s brilliant Night Falls Over Kortedela and achieves something still richer, if also more emotionally bleak.
Past fans will find the easiest connection with the bouncy, string-flourishing piano-pop of election reminiscence “The End of the World Is Bigger Than Love” or the sham-marriage-proposing title track. But Lekman’s endearing wittiness shades toward hard-earned wisdom here, from the jazzy, Sinatra-referencing “Erica America” and exquisitely drip-dropping sax ballad “She Just Don’t Want to Be With You Anymore” to the two album book-ending tracks both titled “Every Little Hair Knows Your Name.” If there’s a unifying conceit, it’s what Lekman sings on tenderly poignant standout “The World Moves On”: “You don’t get over a broken heart/ You just learn to carry it gracefully.” No silver linings, just magnificent purple clouds.