I don’t know where you were last night, but since I was in Berlin I went to Jens Lekman’s secret show because he’s the reason my heart breaks, wallows in the self-awareness of its broken state, and then mends itself again. With the Berlin Wall beyond the river through the window behind him, he played almost exclusively new songs, previews from his upcoming album ‘I Know What Love Isn’t’ (due out September 4th in the US – pre-order here). Well, except for ‘The End of the World Is Bigger Than Love’, which has been floating around for over a year, but has a perfect home on this record.
It’s not even a question that this album is an examination of a broken heart. No, not an examination, that’s too clinical. This record is the crafted outpouring of a broken heart. And while the album is full of the usual Jens Lekman melodies and harmonies, strings and solos and supporting vocals, hearing it live and solo holds a raw vulnerability that can’t help but silence a room. Between songs Jens would break the tension with the anecdotes leading him to write the next tune, relentlessly charming as anyone who has seen him live can tell you.
The title track of the album came out of the times he had spent with a good friend while living in Melbourne, driving around in her janky old car, listening to oldies and looking at girls. The subject of marriage came up, purely perfunctory with the aim of keeping Jens in the country longer. So the story goes:
“…And we had both come out of these relationships, and the idea of entering this constructed relationship built on some sort of purpose was so liberating and comforting to us; instead of entering some sort of relationship based on some vague feeling that could change at any moment. But then I realized, in order to do this, in order to enter this sham marriage, I would never be able to tell the story. I would have to keep my mouth shut for forever. And that doesn’t work when you’re Jens Lekman. So I left the country and I wrote this song instead.“
Nevertheless, part of the song was exploring what love was, and “maybe not find out what love is, but get closer to it.”
Jens is setting out on tour in Europe and will be in the US in the fall. You can see his whole tour schedule on his website. If you can’t wait until September 4th, here’s a preview of the first single, Erica America:
I also highly recommend his NPR Tiny Desk concert (really, I recommend almost any NPR Tiny Desk concert):