An Argument with Myself


Band: Jens Lekman
Album: An Argument with Myself
Best song: “Waiting for Kirsten” and the title track are lovely.
Worst song: “So This Guy At My Office” struggles a bit.

I’ve got a thing for Jens Lekman’s last proper album. It’s the basis for one of the more long-winded pieces of crap writing I’ve ever done.

He stirs up that kind of feeling in people. Like the Postal Service guys, Lekman combines the quirkiness of indie rock with the pop chops of large hooks and overproduced beats. In the case of Night Falls Over Kortedala, Lekman’s use of the language produces a lovely treatise on love, both positive and negative.

An Argument with Myself, of course, is a shorter outing, being an EP. As such, there isn’t an overarching theme of the record. The songs move from the breakup schizophrenia of the title track to the friendship ballad of “A Promise” to the weird half-drunk-stalking of “Waiting for Kirsten.” These themes are earnest with a wink, utilizing Lekman’s greatest gift: his charm.

Indeed, there are few words I’d associate more with Lekman’s music. His voice isn’t dream boat-y like Julian Casablancas’, nor does it inspire the sort of sympathy that the whispery guys (Nick Drake, Elliott Smith, Sam Beam, etc.) do. He doesn’t have the low bass of Bill Callahan or Jason Molina, nor the twang of so many American Southern songwriters. Rather, his voice reminds one of the foreign student with tight pants, the weird haircut and the unfiltered cigarrettes from college.

As mentioned, this foreign-ness is a huge part of the draw to Lekman. English is not his first language, so his lyrical constructs are allmost entirely void of the clichés inherent in songwriting. “Waiting for Kirsten” uses some odd rhymes (Von Trier/Her, Joel/Hotel, etc.) to tell the fractured tale of two dudes trying to meet up with a famous actress, while still mocking her big-timing northern Europeans (“In Gothenburg, we don’t have VIP lines,” he repeasts in the chorus).

Lekman’s music is a certain type of record, certainly. It’s too cute by half most of the time and the criticisms of his self-deprecation — at point is it just low self-esteem? — are well-founded. Nevertheless, An Argument with Myself is, like Lekman himself, perfectly charming.

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