If you’re familiar with the work of Swedish pop veteran Jens Lekman then there’s little about Life Will See You Now that’ll surprise you. His songs are still endearingly garish, his vocals still bring to mind a quasi-operatic Stephin Merritt and his lyrics are still painstakingly specific.
It’s this directness that can put people off – Lekman even nods to it on the track Dandelion Seed where he croons that ‘the wind is like a string section’, while he happens to be accompanied by a string section. But this blunt approach usually works, partly because, as he himself says on the spellbinding opener To Know Your Mission, he usually has his tongue pressed firmly in his cheek.
His gift for arrangement remains particularly impressive. Every track is brimming with character from the disco-inspired How We Met, to the Balearic What’s That Perfume That You Wear? Lekman also knows when to spring surprises. Evening Prayer bounces about with zesty synths and then Hotwire the Ferris Wheel brings things back down with a beautiful vintage piano lead. When he harks back to the youthful vulnerability of his earlier records on How Can I Tell Him, it turns out to be the best track on the album.
There were signs that Life Will See You Now wouldn’t feel fresh – after all, a few tracks have appeared elsewhere in different guises. Luckily, the finished product is articulate and bubbling with energy and positivity – much like Lekman himself.
Listen to: To Know Your Mission, What's That Perfume That You Wear?