Arriving almost two years after his excellent Oh You're So Silent Jens, Night Falls Over Kortedala is a logical and nice extension of the sounds that he introduced on that release. Incorporating a slew of exuberant samples, more heart-on-sleeve lyrics, and some soaring vocals, it's a solid follow-up from a young singer/songwriter that basically uses everything at his disposal to create great pop music.
"And I Remember Every Kiss" kicks things off, and it's hard to think of a much better opener for an album in recent memory. Quiet orchestral loops stir softly before they bloom with loud flourishes (that were supposedly pulled from hi-fi test records) as Lekman adds some soaring croons that aren't too far off from the more high-spirited vocals of Neil Diamond. Although styles change from song to song (this is, after all, a collection of recordings from the past three years), the overall feel of the album is more cohesive than his previous release, while the recording quality is much more uniform as well, despite having his usual lo-fi edges in places.
"A Postcard To Nina" veers into a playful doowop, and it's a perfect backdrop for the lyrics of Lekman (which seem to be about him impersonating as a boyfriend for a female friend for her family so she can have a relationship with another girl while at the same time falling for her). An orchestral pop album by way of what is essentially mash-up, it veers into string-laced disco on "Sipping On The Sweet Nectar," and although the hopelessly romantic Jens mentions his first kiss for the fifth time or so, only a real curmudgeon would get too up in arms.
One of the great things about Lekman, and this album in particular, is that it really feels like a nostalgic trip both musically and lyrically without feeling too overly sentimental and nostalgic. The samples he uses help him create some great hooks (as evidence, The Avalanches use the same Jimmy Webb loops as he does from "Sipping On The Sweet Nectar"), but like his lyrics (which are filled with names and personal references that may or may not be true) they seem chosen for very specific personal reasons.
A perfect example of this is when a portion of the melody of "It Was A Strange Time In My Life" is lifted from a sample of Lekman singing when he was younger that opens the song. The track lopes along with a stuttering rhythm and warm flute and strings, and Lekman is joined on vocals by El Perro Del Mar as he again sings of awkward moments and encounters. If I can level a complaint with the release, it's that other than a few slightly more pace-quickening tracks, it largely gets stuck in a pretty, but overly-sweet mid-tempo and ballad range that gets a bit weary after fifty minutes. That said, this is Jens Lekman, and what he does best is create overly-sweet pop songs, so it's hard to complain too much.