Jens Lekman – An Argument with Myself EP review

When I sat down to write my review for Swedish indie rocker Jens Lekman’s newest EP, An Argument with Myself, I was all set to give it a negative opinion. The music was nice, sure, but what was up with Lekman’s lisped Morrissey-lite vocal delivery? And what about those semi-pretentious, overly poetic, rambling lyrics?

But then I turned on the record again and something inside my brain just clicked. In truth, this 5-song EP is a diverse, eclectic, and personable record that shows a unique musician at the top of his game, both musically and lyrically. Stylistically, these five songs cover a broad spectrum of sounds, but there’s a pronounced tropical feel to the album that brings to mind the world music experiments of pop stars in the 80s like Peter Gabriel. The titular track, with its borderline-monologue lyrics, bouncy bass guitar and calypso rhythms, feels like the soundtrack of a vacation to an over-Americanized island resort; “Waiting for Kristen” sounds, well, kind of like The Smiths, but with more strings; “New Directions” main trumpet line sounds like a trip to Spain; “A Promise” uses strings and light acoustic guitars to evoke travelling down a countryside of some description; and rounding things off is “So this Guy at my Office” which is based on an upbeat-laden reggae beat.

Tying all of these styles together is Jens Lekman’s unique vocals, which are still a tad off-putting – his accent is distinct, and he sometimes gets to be just a bit too close to the aforementioned Morrissey for comfort – but effective. Special mention also should be given to his lyrics, which show a fluid style that never gets so abstract that you can’t understand what they’re about, as well as dealing with current issues with a high level of wit.

So really, there’s very little to complain about this tight little EP; all of the songs stand up on their own merit while still feeling like part of a more far-reaching whole, and there’s a wide variety of styles and sound combinations throughout that keep the proceedings light and fresh. The EP is a difficult form to master – most bands flounder when faced with the prospect, forgetting that despite the short runtime, an EP should still be a fairly cohesive piece of music with its own identity. But Jens Lekman comes out of it with his head held high – check this album out.

By Daniel Korn

Daniel wants to be a rock star when he grows up. He is currently pursuing a career in music by studying at York University, where he hits things loudly with sticks. He is in two gigging bands - New Stems and The Formalists. He writes for MVRemix and Cadence Canada. He also has a weekly podcast called Two Loud Guys. Aside from music, he likes video games, comic books, puppies, and food. You can follow him on twitter @AmateurDan.

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