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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Jens Lekman
Night Falls Over Kortedala
Secretly Canadian

Rating: 8.1/10 ?


October 10, 2007
Jens Lekman has it figured out. He's young, commands his own all-female touring band to color-coordinate as he wishes, tops the charts in his homeland, and currently summits a minor miracle: setting indieland's and netcrits' hearts ablaze with an actual, irreducible sense of humor. And he's a gifted melodist and arranger, which in this century means he samples the right Beat Happening tunelet to update his swanky 60s-lite orch-pop. He culturalizes his lyrics the same way, dropping Warren G into a summer memory for concreteness fans who lived through 1993 to appreciate.

2005's Oh You're So Silent Jens was an EP compilation doubling as an accidental premature Best-of; how weird is it that Oh You're So Silent has got more beginning, middle and end than either of his actual albums? But a collection befits a collector like Lekman, who collages in-jokes, Jonathan Richman-esque hopeless romanticism and fun-cheesy symphonic swells more like a scrapbooker than a traditional songwriter. His wit and tunecraft aren't quite up to, say, Stephin Merritt's peak, but these days I'd take him over not just Merritt but also the weathered tunes of Belle & Sebastian.

If nothing on Night Falls on Kortedala is as memorable as "A Sweet Summer's Night on Hammer Hill," "Pocketful of Money," or the longing "Black Cab" - all available on Oh You're So Silent - the songs aren't much of a progression downward either. Instead, Lekman stagnates, centering his best highbrow laughs (the calamity play "A Postcard to Nina," in which he tries to fool a lesbian friend's parents into thinking he's her fiancée) and saddest of ballads ("I'm Leaving You Because I Don't Love You," in which the dumpee in question puffs an asthma inhaler in solace) while his well still wets.

Kortedala is a touch shy of a great album because Lekman's ornate tendencies towards full-on kitsch get the best of the still A-level songwriting. You have to unwrap the cheese a bit before "The Opposite of Hallelujah" or "If I Could Cry (It Would Feel Like This)" sink in as enjoyable songs. This is both a good and a bad sign: this album either portends worse forays into easy listening bloat or proves Lekman's tunes can withstand anything. I'm fixed to believe the former, because the gorgeous "Shirin" or the swinging "Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo" may not always be around the corner to reward one for stretching their schmaltz tolerance. But I hold out for the latter because of that A-level songwriting.

Reviewed by Dan Weiss
Dan Weiss is the music editor for LAS. Formerly an editorial intern at CMJ and creator of the now defunct What was It Anyway?, his work has appeared in Village Voice, Pitchfork, Philadelphia Inquirer, Stylus and Crawdaddy among others. He resides in Brooklyn where he enjoys questionable lifestyle choices and loud guitars.

See other reviews by Dan Weiss

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