Jens Lekman: "I Know What Love Isn't"

[Editor's note: In this week's issue, Eric Swedlund chats with Swedish singer/songwriter Jens Lekman, and explores his critically acclaimed new record, I Know What Love Isn't. Here, Swedlund breaks down the title track. Lekman is scheduled to perform Friday, November 9, at Crescent Ballroom.]

Love isn't about faking a marriage for immigration purposes.

Yet in pondering the mysteries of love after a breakup of his own, Swedish singer-songwriter Jens Lekman found inspiration in that type of relationship, a mundane and well-defined business agreement.

See also: Jens Lekman Studies the Science of Songwriting On "I Know What Love Isn't," the title song from his new album, Lekman approaches the notion in a matter-of-fact way, yet uses the notion of a fake relationship to expose the pitfalls of real romance:

"So let's get married I'm serious But only for the citizenship I've always liked the idea of it A relationship doesn't lie about its intentions and shit How it doesn't apologize or anthologize All the rules and ideas we fill our heads with."

Exploring two distinctly different versions of the song, what's immediately clear is how the forlorn simplicity drives the song.

Solo acoustic, Lekman presents the song from the viewpoint of a far more vulnerable character.

The album version, with its lush production and flute solo, take a more playful tone. Taking both versions together, what emerges strongest in his lyrics is the idea that on a search for love, finding things to exclude can make for important lessons along the way.

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Eric is a freelance writer covering music, travel, science, and food and drink.
Contact: Eric Swedlund