Mon Feb 28
10 SW 3rd
Although it might be a difficult matter for some people to wrap their heads around, the idea of being both pop music-obsessed and a discerning music fan aren't always mutually exclusive. Like many other self-conscious music fans before me, I've suffered a great deal of self-flagellation over my affection for perfect, pristine pop songs--never totally comprehending the joys discerning music fans are supposed to find in tuneless walls of noise and jazz music. In recent years, however, I've sort of resolved myself to my fate--but all is not necessarily lost in my pursuit of erudite music snobbery. And I have people like Jens Lekman to thank for it.
At 23, Jens Lekman is a bonafide pop star in his homeland of Sweden--a nation that knows a thing or two about cloyingly perfect pop music--where he recently scored a number two hit on the Swedish pop charts, and picked up three Swedish Grammy nominations. Here in the States, Lekman is a slightly less familiar name--recently releasing his Stateside debut, When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog, on Indiana indie label Secretly Canadian to decidedly less acclaim. Clearly a card-carrying pop music obsessive, Lekman culls his pop palette from only the finest of sources--a well that includes the likes of Bacharach, Momus, Stephen Merritt, and (a lot of) Jonathan Richman, and that's without even scratching the surface. Fusing baroque pop affectations, a syrupy AM radio baritone, and, appropriately, the occasional well-placed string sample, Lekman's music is something of an experiment in impeccable pop taste--a thoughtful, charmingly light-hearted songwriter of impressive intention. Sure, his lyrics--borrowing Richman's sense of goof, minus the loveably wide-eyed naivety--can get a little cloying, but you've really got to hand it to a guy who can make name-checking Warren G's "Regulate" sound perfectly nostalgic without so much as a hint of irony. And I've got to hand it Lekman's arching, artful vision--if only for its further justification of my pop snobbery.