Jens Lekman
I Know What Love Isn't
Secretly Canadian

Musically diverse indeed, Sweden has long produced gems from the genre spectrum, be it classical to the fiercest of death metal. But it’s probably best known for pop exports, and Jens Lekman keeps that tradition alive with his latest release, I Know What Love Isn’t.

Lekman, 31, is not a newcomer by any means. He’s been at it for a while, but this was my introduction to the guitarist/songwriter, and I was pretty impressed from the get-go. With hints of Morrissey to Belle and Sebastian (it’s a little difficult to compare the uniqueness of Lekman’s sound to other artists), the mostly acoustic-backed, sample-rich tunes are full of super-catchy hooks that partner well with his honest and interesting lyrics.

This isn’t pop in the power vein. It’s most certainly melodic, but it doesn’t drag or mope. Lekman really keeps things interesting from track to track with the wide range of tempos, styles, and instruments or samples he employs. Add to that his talents as a skilled storyteller—sometimes serious, sometimes not—and you have a combination for a distinctively awesome record. —Rich Osweiler

Must-hear track: “I Know What Love Isn’t”