Life Will See You Now

Album Review of Life Will See You Now by Jens Lekman.

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Life Will See You Now

Jens Lekman

Life Will See You Now by Jens Lekman

Release Date: Feb 17, 2017
Record label: Secretly Canadian
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock

79 Music Critic Score
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Life Will See You Now - Very Good, Based on 20 Critics

The Guardian - 100
Based on rating 5/5
100

I t's been more than four years since the last Jens Lekman album, years in which, by his own account, he struggled to make music that seemed worthwhile. His muse was rekindled in 2015, when he decided to write a song for each week, and it's burning brightly on his fourth, brilliant full-length. Like Orange Juice did decades ago, he's made the journey from spindly, insular indiepop to glorious, primary-coloured music, explicitly referencing 80s chart hits, soul, funk and disco.

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Entertainment Weekly - 93
Based on rating A
93

Heir to Belle & Sebastian's gently wry indie-pop kingdom, Jens Lekman topped the charts in his native Sweden ten years ago while earning rapturous reviews worldwide. A half-decade later, he fell into personal and professional crisis. As an antidote, he recorded a new song every week throughout 2015, then teamed with English DJ Ewan Pearson for this, his fourth and most fully realized album.

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PopMatters - 90
Based on rating 9/10
90

The brilliant Swedish singer-songwriter Jens Lekman's catalog is filled with wryly self-aware songs that analyze coming of age, love, friendship, and heartbreak in an entertaining fashion. Like Stephen Merritt or Jarvis Cocker, Lekman's lyrics are unusually story-driven, often having a beginning, middle, and end rather than circling a theme poetically. His peculiar take on indie pop includes everything from Scott Walker-type baroque pop to tropically-themed exotica to sample-based electronic music.

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Pitchfork - 80
Based on rating 8.0/10
80

"Postcard #17" is the penultimate track on Jens Lekman's fourth album Life Will See You Now, and also its darkest. A morose Mingus-sampling piano ballad with handclaps and a disco backbeat, there's no cute story to unfurl, no quirky character to imbue pearls of wisdom. The tune follows the internal monologue of a writer struggling to believe in himself ("If I just put this pen to this paper/If I just change the labels on the salt and pepper shaker/If I just trick myself into pouring it all out"), desperate to conquer the demons gnawing at his own sense of self-worth.

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The Observer (UK) - 80
Based on rating 4/5
80

T his fourth album by Gothenburg's master of the indie story song song finds him reinvigorated after 2012's heartbroken I Know What Love Isn't, kicked up the arse by drum machines. It's also infused with fresh lyrical vim by the Ghostwriting project, in which he worked from fan-submitted stories, and Postcards, in which he released a song each week for a year. Postcard #17 appears here, and its more directly emotional night terrors offer a rich contrast to the customary charming-yet-wily wordplay of the dreamily new-romantic Tracey Thorn duet Hotwire the Ferris Wheel, the tropical house touches of What's That Perfume That You Wear, in which olfactory associations of lost love hit like a gut punch, or the puppy-bouncy To Know Your Mission, which restates Lekman's credo - "In a world of mouths, I want to be an ear" - through the story of a teenage Jens explaining his ambitions to a Mormon stranger.

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Exclaim - 80
Based on rating 8/10
80

In 2015, Swedish troubadour Jens Lekman released 68 new cuts between his two songwriting experiment series', Postcards and Ghostwriting. With that volume of output, it's only natural that his quality control was a little less strict than usual. For his fourth official full-length, however, Lekman returns to his usual meticulous self. The production on Life Will See You Now is beautifully lush, and the upbeat mood marks a departure from 2012's generally downcast I Know What Love Isn't.

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The Line of Best Fit - 80
Based on rating 8/10
80

In it, you set yourself a time limit and just write whatever comes to mind without stopping until the time is up. What you usually end up with is usually riddled with errors and mostly nonsense, but there's always something there to push you on. When Jens Lekman was going through his period of self-doubt and wondering whether to even continue making music, he decided to do his own bit of free-writing (albeit more polished than what might come from most writers' pens).

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The Line of Best Fit - 80
Based on rating 8/10
80

In it, you set yourself a time limit and just write whatever comes to mind without stopping until the time is up. What you usually end up with is usually riddled with errors and mostly nonsense, but there's always something there to push you on. When Jens Lekman was going through his period of self-doubt and wondering whether to even continue making music, he decided to do his own bit of free-writing (albeit more polished than what might come from most writers' pens).

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The Skinny - 80
Based on rating 4/5
80

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.

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Paste Magazine - 77
Based on rating 7.7/10
77

On Life Will See You Now--Jens Lekman's fourth full-length album amidst many EPs and 2015's song-a-week project called Postcards--the Swedish singer/songwriter seems to encapsulate his new emotional direction in one couplet. Two-and-a-half-minutes into "Hotwire the Ferris Wheel," a sultry synth-rock tune that's only broken by soft strumming from his classical guitar and swan-diving violin sweeps, Lekman sings, "If you're gonna write a song about this / please don't make it a sad song. " Lyrically, that's exactly the opposite of some of his best tracks from 2012's I Know What Love Isn't, which enabled listeners to laugh through their heartbreak.

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The 405 - 75
Based on rating 7.5/10
75

Jens Lekman is dicing with death. With his fourth album, and first since 2012's somewhat subdued I Know What Love Isn't, he has made a full reach for the stars. Long-time fans of his will be familiar with his blend of fey, witty, bleeding heart lyrics and major key pop compositions, with his second album Night Falls Over Kortedala standing as something of an indie classic.

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Under The Radar - 75
Based on rating 7.5/10
75

Snapping with flashlight disco, percussive tropicalia, palpable visuals, and devastating pomp, Jens Lekman opens the curtains to life's generous swimming pool with his signature singular musical contemplation and invites us to splash around on the ebullient Life Will See You Now. "To Know Your Mission" frolics in jingling bells as happy as a holiday ham while questioning, "What are we here for?" Though there is never an answer, there is this: "In a world of mouths, I want to be an ear. " This, like so many of his confessions, has the marvelous capacity to create immense joy and devastating sadness within us.

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PopMatters - 70
Based on rating 7/10
70

In the press release for Jens Lekman's fourth studio album, Life Will See You Now, Lekman describes how the album's title came about. It was a last minute decision bred from Lekman describing the album as such: "Well, it’s about these people, and it’s like they’re sitting in a waiting room waiting for life to start, and then the nurse comes out and says 'life will see you now’. ” It's the sort of quirky anecdote that is signature to Lekman, but, paired with Life Will See You Now's sincere and life-affirming content, the title risks having a schmaltzy ring to it, like it's the musical equivalent of a warm and fuzzy dramedy with a big ensemble cast.

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Drowned In Sound - 70
Based on rating 7/10
70

Once it all seemed to come so easily for Jens Lekman. During the mid-Noughties, the Swedish baroque pop troubadour churned out a spate of perfectly-crafted singles, EPs and full-lengths, peaking with cult LP Night Falls Over Kortedala. Lekman's tunes of sample-heavy heart-on-sleeve whimsy seemed to flow effortlessly and won him legions of fans across the globe (including the actress Kirsten Dunst, who found herself immortalised in one of his songs by the turn of the decade).

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Rolling Stone - 70
Based on rating 3.5/5
70

Singer Jens Lekman has always reveled in quirky, whimsical storytelling, sort of like the indie-pop inverse of Tom Waits. His fourth LP, Life Will See You Now, presents 10 new vignettes with a bizarre cast featuring a Mormon missionary seeking the meaning of life, a pair of friends joyriding on a hotwired Ferris wheel in the middle of the night and a man curiously examining a 3-D printout of his own tumor. One disco-y tune recounts "How We Met, the Long Version," but it goes back to the Big Bang.

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AllMusic - 70
Based on rating 7/10
70

After the release of his 2012 album, I Know What Love Isn't, Jens Lekman went out on tour and quickly realized that his fans hadn't really warmed up to the sad and subdued nature of the new songs. This realization sent Lekman into a bit of a tailspin that led to him questioning the nature of his songs and the character of "Jens" that he had created. He kept working and almost finished an album in 2014, but set it aside when it became clear that it wasn't quite right.

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Slant Magazine - 70
Based on rating 3.5/5
70

Jens Lekman’s Life Will See You Know is propelled by an emphasis on tropical music and the Swedish musician’s sonorous croon and eclectic instrumentation. It once again finds Lekman employing striking sensory imagery in his acutely detailed recollections about friends and lovers. The singer-songwriter views even commonplace occurrences and observations with a sense of wonder; for him, something as simple as the fragrance from a bottle of hotel shampoo can tap into vivid memories and emotions.

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Dusted Magazine
Their review was positive

It's been five years since Jens Lekman's last "proper" LP, but the path from 2012's I Know What Love Isn't to his new record was neither simple nor straightforward. It involved: a bad breakup; a breakup album; a traumatic tour for that album where a series of half-full shows where it seemed like everyone just wanted him to get to the older, less bummed out songs; an almost-done album that neither friends nor his label seemed to like; not one but two songwriting projects in 2015 that kept him busy without the pressure of making a full album (the write-a-song-every-week Postcards and Ghostwriting, where he interviewed people in order to write songs from their stories, both of which left their traces on Life Will See You Now); finding an outside producer for the first time in his career (Ewan Pearson, who keeps everything bright and clean); and eventually writing and releasing this, his most upbeat-seeming album, which Lekman will tell you is "really an album about that transition from what Kierkegaard called the aesthetic to the ethical. " For an artist who's always put his sad songs in major keys and his happy ones in minor keys, who's one of the few singer-songwriters who's equally at home and aesthetically congruent with disco as he is folk, the result is his most fully realized album to date, and a reminder after those lower-profile years that Lekman's voice is a singular and valuable one.

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Clash Music
Their review was positive

There's no other way to describe this than utterly life-affirming pop music. Jens Lekman doesn't shy away from the dark stuff, but actively tackles it - with such deft grace and detail that you find much to celebrate in both the light and the shadow. From opener 'To Know Your Mission', an existential crisis wrapped up in the soundscape of a particularly indie musical, we know we're tackling some fairly chunky themes.

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Spin
Their review was positive

What is a Jens Lekman? It doesn't come in any of the usual colors or shapes. It bristles with complicated angles and mechanisms. It's hard to immediately say what it does, but it's so appealingly packaged you want to buy it on sight. It's a Rube Goldberg contraption made of tinsel and tulle, pinwheels and joy buzzers, duty-free perfume and lavender incense.

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