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JENS LEKMAN

Jens Lekman

The Cherry Trees Are Still In Blossom

    “All my friends were playing in these bass-guitar-drum bands,” speaks Jens Lekman, casting his mind back over twenty years to his first rudimentary experiments with sampling using his father’s old cassette recorder, and an instinct to create music that would set him far apart from his Swedish pop peers. “I’m going to sound like Scott Walker. But I’m going to do it in my bedroom.” Works of sweeping, maximalist, orchestral wonder sung in a sumptuous tenor, weaving lifts from obscure fleamarket vinyl records with by turns burningly romantic and mordantly funny true-life tales from the sleepy-shadowy suburbs of Gothenburg – Lekman’s early songs come from a different time, a different place. An era when the internet was young, limitless and disruptive, sample culture was turning music inside out, and anything felt possible. After initially finding an audience through peer-to-peer file sharing sites, Lekman signed to Secretly Canadian Records in 2003, and went on to release a slew of cherished material, including three cult limited-edition EPs – Maple Leaves, Rocky Dennis and Julie – later collected on the 2005 compilation album Oh You’re So Silent Jens.

    His DIY fantasias found their fullest and most celebrated form in 2007 on his second album proper, the exquisite Night Falls Over Kortedala – Lekman’s self-professed “dream record”. It went to number one in Sweden and was later hailed as one of the 200 best albums of the 2000s by Pitchfork, as well as one of the top 100 albums of the 21st century so far by The Guardian. Now, like Oh You’re So Silent Jens, it no longer exists in its original form. Oh You’re So Silent Jens enigmatically disappeared in 2011; Night Falls Over Kortedala followed suit in early 2022. Lekman’s impulse for giving old music fresh life and context has led him to remake the records under new names, each delicately positioned in dialogue with the past – the same albums, just different.

    The Cherry Trees Are Still In Blossom and The Linden Trees Are Still In Blossom are a pair of lovingly and painstakingly assembled reduxes each keeping the same core tracklisting, spirit and source material as the originals, but blending brand new versions of some tracks, in part or in whole, together with many tracks left largely as they were. Both records are fleshed out with rare, previously unreleased, and even previously unfinished old songs, as well as other contemporaneous material such as cassette diaries.

    On The Cherry Trees, two of Lekman’s best-loved early breakout singles are completely reimagined – ‘Maple Leaves’ as a tender ballad burnished with warm strings; tragi-comic illegal taxi ride to oblivion ‘Black Cab’ in two different versions, a handsome full band pop song and a gentle acoustic lullaby.

    The Linden Trees repackages all the true-life tales, magic, and mystery of Night Falls for a new age, yet in wholly familiar form, from the joyous ‘The Opposite of Hallelujah’ to hilariously uplifting missive ‘A Postcard to Nina’ and open-hearted love-song ‘Your Arms Around Me’. Taken together, the new albums form a sort of belated farewell to Lekman’s formative days as a bedroom Scott Walker, panning for sample gold in stacks of vintage vinyl. Albeit not a farewell to the original albums themselves, which will live on in fans’ record collections, and perhaps illicit corners of the internet. Spread to the wind. “I feel like these new records are like portals that can lead you to the old records if you want,” Lekman reflects. “I think that they can lead you to another time and a place, where you could work with music in a different way

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: It's a really interesting idea this, and 'Cherry Trees...' sees Swedish pop maestro Jens Lenkman revisit 'Oh You're So Silent, Jens' from 2005 and is a brittle and beautiful reconstruction of those wonderfully evocative pieces. Though the structure is recognisable, it's brought things right up to date with orchestral flourishes and a modern production aesthetic, paying homage to the original whilst completely reinventing it at the same time. Beautiful.

    TRACK LISTING

    SIDE A:
    1) November 27, 2002
    2) At The Dept. Of Forgotten Songs
    3) Maple Leaves
    4) Sky Phenomenon
    5) Pocketful Of Money
    6) Black Cab

    SIDE B:
    7) Someone To Share My Life With
    8) December 19, 2002
    9) Rocky Dennis’ Farewell Song To The Blind Girl
    10) Rocky Dennis In Heaven
    11) Jens Lekman’s Farewell Song To Rocky Dennis
    12) Julie (RMX)

    SIDE C:
    13) April 23, 2003
    14) I Saw Her In The Anti-War Demonstration
    15) A Sweet Summer’s Night On Hammer Hill
    16) A Man Walks Into A Bar
    17) Another Sweet Summer’s Night On Hammer Hill
    18) F-Word

    SIDE D:
    19) The Wrong Hands
    20) June 1, 2003
    21) Eureka
    22) The Cherry Trees Are Still In Blossom
    23) Black Cab (Acoustic)

    Jens Lekman

    The Linden Trees Are Still In Blossom

      “All my friends were playing in these bass-guitar-drum bands,” speaks Jens Lekman, casting his mind back over twenty years to his first rudimentary experiments with sampling using his father’s old cassette recorder, and an instinct to create music that would set him far apart from his Swedish pop peers. “I’m going to sound like Scott Walker. But I’m going to do it in my bedroom.” Works of sweeping, maximalist, orchestral wonder sung in a sumptuous tenor, weaving lifts from obscure fleamarket vinyl records with by turns burningly romantic and mordantly funny true-life tales from the sleepy-shadowy suburbs of Gothenburg – Lekman’s early songs come from a different time, a different place. An era when the internet was young, limitless and disruptive, sample culture was turning music inside out, and anything felt possible. After initially finding an audience through peer-to-peer file sharing sites, Lekman signed to Secretly Canadian Records in 2003, and went on to release a slew of cherished material, including three cult limited-edition EPs – Maple Leaves, Rocky Dennis and Julie – later collected on the 2005 compilation album Oh You’re So Silent Jens.

      His DIY fantasias found their fullest and most celebrated form in 2007 on his second album proper, the exquisite Night Falls Over Kortedala – Lekman’s self-professed “dream record”. It went to number one in Sweden and was later hailed as one of the 200 best albums of the 2000s by Pitchfork, as well as one of the top 100 albums of the 21st century so far by The Guardian. Now, like Oh You’re So Silent Jens, it no longer exists in its original form. Oh You’re So Silent Jens enigmatically disappeared in 2011; Night Falls Over Kortedala followed suit in early 2022. Lekman’s impulse for giving old music fresh life and context has led him to remake the records under new names, each delicately positioned in dialogue with the past – the same albums, just different.

      The Cherry Trees Are Still In Blossom and The Linden Trees Are Still In Blossom are a pair of lovingly and painstakingly assembled reduxes each keeping the same core tracklisting, spirit and source material as the originals, but blending brand new versions of some tracks, in part or in whole, together with many tracks left largely as they were. Both records are fleshed out with rare, previously unreleased, and even previously unfinished old songs, as well as other contemporaneous material such as cassette diaries.

      On The Cherry Trees, two of Lekman’s best-loved early breakout singles are completely reimagined – ‘Maple Leaves’ as a tender ballad burnished with warm strings; tragi-comic illegal taxi ride to oblivion ‘Black Cab’ in two different versions, a handsome full band pop song and a gentle acoustic lullaby.

      The Linden Trees repackages all the true-life tales, magic, and mystery of Night Falls for a new age, yet in wholly familiar form, from the joyous ‘The Opposite of Hallelujah’ to hilariously uplifting missive ‘A Postcard to Nina’ and open-hearted love-song ‘Your Arms Around Me’. Taken together, the new albums form a sort of belated farewell to Lekman’s formative days as a bedroom Scott Walker, panning for sample gold in stacks of vintage vinyl. Albeit not a farewell to the original albums themselves, which will live on in fans’ record collections, and perhaps illicit corners of the internet. Spread to the wind. “I feel like these new records are like portals that can lead you to the old records if you want,” Lekman reflects. “I think that they can lead you to another time and a place, where you could work with music in a different way.”

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: 'Linden Trees...' is the second of Lenkman's reimagined classics out this week and much like the Cherry Trees, sees the swedish composer redoing one of his classic. This time it's the turn of 'Night Falls Over Kortedala' and is probably my favourite of the two, moving deftly between shimmering orchestral fare and stripped-back acousticry. It's a wonderful execution of a unique concept, and a GREAT listen.

      TRACK LISTING

      SIDE A:
      1) And I Remember Every Kiss
      2) Sipping On The Sweet Nectar
      3) The Opposite Of Hallelujah
      4) A Postcard To Nina
      5) Into Eternity

      SIDE B:
      6) I’m Leaving You Because I Don’t Love You
      7) If I Could Cry (it Would Feel Like This)
      8) Your Arms Around Me
      9) Shirin
      10) It Was A Strange Time In My Life

      SIDE C:
      11) Kanske Är Jag Kär I Dig
      12) Friday Night At The Drive-In Bingo
      13) Your Beat Kicks Back Like Death
      14) Our Last Swim In The Ocean

      SIDE D:
      15) A Little Lost
      16) Radio NRJ
      17) The Linden Trees Are Still In Blossom
      18) When I’m Swimming

      Jens Lekman & Annika Norlin

      Correspondence

        After completing his previous projects Postcards (where he wrote 52 songs in 52 weeks) and Ghostwriting (where he offered his songwriting to tell other peoples stories), Jens Lekman came up with a new idea. He asked fellow Swedish songwriter Annika Norlin (Hello Saferide, Säkert!) to join him.

        The idea was that throughout the year of 2018, the two of them would correspond through music. Each month, one of them would write a song and the next month, the other one would reply. Before starting, they did some research on famous letter writing in literature. They were struck by how you usually have to be dead and declared a genius for your correspondence to be published. That’s sad, they thought, and decided this would be great to do while they were still alive.

        The rules were simple:

        - One letter each month throughout the year - in total, six songs for Jens and six for Annika.

        - Only one instrument could be used for each song. This was to help them focus on the songs/letters instead of the production. Correspondence gave Jens and Annika an outlet for more spontaneous ideas, and they decided to stay under the radar by only releasing the songs on the Correspondence website, and a Spotify playlist. Most of the time they forgot that anyone else could hear the songs, and they turned out very personal. But looking back at 2018, maybe most of the personal things they wrote about - exhaustion, longing for human connection, harassment, climate change anxiety - summed up 2018 at a larger level as well.

        As the project came to an end, Jens and Annika listened through the songs and felt pleased with the results. An epistolary novel in the form of twelve folksongs. Jens wrote string arrangements for half of the songs and brought in violinist Ellen Hjalmarsson and cellist Petra Lundin. For the first time since the digital release, their correspondence will be released on vinyl.

        TRACK LISTING

        SIDE A:
        1. Who Really Needs Who
        2. Showering In Public
        3. Forever Young, Forever Beautiful

        SIDE B:
        4. Hibernation
        5. Not Because It’s Easy, Because It’s Hard
        6. Joining A Cult

        SIDE C:
        7. Revenge Of The Nerds
        8. Failure
        9. Cosmetics Store

        SIDE D:
        10. Election Day
        11. On The Edge Of Time
        12. Silent Night

        Across three studio albums, the Swedish singer/songwriter and musician has proven not only his flair for telling very personal stories with a sharp self-awareness, but also his skill for balancing depth of emotional expression with droll and often self-deprecating detail. It’s a winning pop combination.

        His fourth, Life Will See You Now is a typical Lekman album in several ways: sly humor is key to its heartfelt nature; it inverts pop’s writing norm by making songs with sad concerns sound happy and songs with a happy subject sound sad; and it plays with notions of identity and the self.

        But, as the title suggests, it also represents a significant move forward, as if across a threshold. I Know What Love Isn’t (2012) was informed by a painful relationship breakdown that pitched its author into something of a crisis and so necessarily put him at its center, using a muted sound palette.

        But Life Will See You Now is the more expansive, upbeat sound of a revitalized Lekman, who is just one of many characters in his new stories about the magic and messiness of different kinds of relationships. It’s also the result of deliberate steps he took to create this fresh sound.

        Lekman experiments with different kinds of rhythms – disco, calypso, samba and bossa nova all get a bespoke twirl in the spotlight – and so he called on producer Ewan Pearson (M83, The Chemical Brothers, Goldfrapp) to help realize his new songs.

        STAFF COMMENTS

        Barry says: Twee outsider-pop pieces, silken strings and shimmering guitars, topped by Lekman's brilliantly emotive vocals. Groovy, with meaningful melodies, constantly evolving chord progressions and a unique pop sensibility makes this stand out as one of the great voices of our time.

        TRACK LISTING

        1. To Know Your Mission
        2. Evening Prayer
        3. Hotwire The Ferris Wheel
        4. What’s That Perfume That You Wear?
        5. Our First Fight
        6. Wedding In Finistère
        7. How We Met, The Long Version
        8. How Can I Tell Him
        9. Postcard #17
        10. Dandelion Seed

        Jens Lekman

        I Know What Love Isn't

          Jens Lekman returns with his first full length album in 5 years, and it’s more than worth the wait. A melodic sensibility mixed with personal, insightful lyrics and a sparer palette of instruments, he takes inspiration from a break-up, a sweltering Melbourne summer, time spent in the US, etc.

          Without a doubt his finest collection of songs to date, the album is already picking up incredible attention and is sure to bring him a vast array of new fans. ‘I Know What Love Isn’t’ is the story of the grey areas of love that you have to excavate and explore, using the method of exclusion, to find out what love is.

          Jens Lekman

          An Argument With Myself

            Jens Lekman returns with his first new music in almost four years, with the mini-album ‘An Argument With Myself’.

            Witty, literal, and location-specific, the songs are all heading somewhere as a means to either go crazy or keep from doing so.

            From the title track’s inner battle about moving to Melbourne, or the manic roadmap of directions to any place but here (and any time but now) of ‘New Directions’.

            Jens has a devoted hardcore following desperate for new Jens music and he’ll be returning for shows in the UK in October shortly after this release, including an already sold-out show at London’s Heaven.

            This is a collection of five of the most impeccably crafted songs you will hear in 2011.


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