Jens Lekman, the unapologetic supplier of sunshine soaked, kitchen sink pop is back with his first record since 2012, Life Will See You Now. Lekman has acknowledged the influence of Belle and Sebastian on his work, it’s an influence your acutely aware of as soon as Life Will See You Now starts. Lekman uses humour in a similar way to Stuart Murdoch but without as much ease, perhaps it isn’t fair to suggest it seems forces but there are times when it almost crosses over into parody. It certainly gets more Flight of the Conchords than Flight of the Valkyries in places.
Life Will See You Now kicks off at a frenetically optimistic, upbeat tempo. The music itself full of energy all funky guitars, intermittent handclaps and a whole army of alternating percussive instruments. The canvas is wedged. ‘Evening Prayer’ in particular worms its way into your ear; melodically simple but catchy, darkly comic lyrics about a tumour in a jar and a machine gun of “dit-dit-dit-do-do-doo’s” it’s a pretty good microcosm of the record as a whole.
Romanticising the mundanities and satirising the bleakness of life leads to couplets like “The lonely cry of a seagull, I say let’s do something illegal” and “We climbed over the wired fences, you dropped one of your contact lenses” from ‘Hotwire the Ferris Wheel’ depending on your disposition it could make you cringe or hug yourself with warm, fuzzy joy.
Lekman can get a song out of absolutely anything or alternatively, nothing. The uplifting, vibrant backing tracks – some of which would be great just as instrumental pieces – prop up some tired premises for the songs, but then Lekman is an astute enough lyricist to make it interesting. ‘Wedding in Finistere’ has audible echoes of Paul Simon’s Graceland and its all the more enjoyable for it.
By combining uplifting music and the most literal lyrics since ‘My Lovely Horse’ this record makes you not feel so bad about spending your afternoons looking out the window at next door’s cat. Whether it’s the Caribbean steel drums, the satirical lyrics or the odd ‘woo-hoo’ thrown in this is a very upbeat record. There’s very little darkness, a conga line of Teletubbies on yokes would be less care-free than the vast majority of Life Will See You Now.