Heir to Belle & Sebastian’s gently wry indie-pop kingdom, Jens Lekman topped the charts in his native Sweden ten years ago while earning rapturous reviews worldwide. A half-decade later, he fell into personal and professional crisis. As an antidote, he recorded a new song every week throughout 2015, then teamed with English DJ Ewan Pearson for this, his fourth and most fully realized album.
Showcasing some of that tuneful bounty, Life Will See You Now tackles grand questions – What’s humanity’s purpose? How do we best express love? – via mundane situations rendered with hyper-specific details simultaneously poignant and funny: “Evening Prayer,” for example, depicts an ailing friend who creates via 3D printing a replica of his tumor, and gives it to a waitress. Naturally, it’s a stirring retro-soul anthem suitable for hustle dancing.
Blessed with a tenor as soothing as his thoughts are anxious, Lekman sets his insightful songs to the most spirited and diverse arrangements of his career. “What’s That Perfume That You Wear?” starts with stark, troubled guitar before exploding into roof-raising calypso disco that in turn gives way to pining chamber music strings. Yielding vibrant optimism where Lekman had typically sulked with a smile. Life is the perfect pick-me-up for the winter of our discontent.
“Hot Wire the Ferris Wheel”
Lekman was born to sing with kindred crooner Tracey Thorn of Everything But the Girl, and here they do so smashingly with a sweeping easy-listening melody and a gently funky beat.
“Our First Fight”
To a falso-Spanish kitsch arrangement akin to ABBA’s “Fernando,” Lekman frets in the wake of an argument until his new beloved reconciles with the kindness of a parent to a child.