Jens Lekman

You Are the Light

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

You Are the Light is Swedish pop kid Jens Lekman's best, most assured release to date. The EP is bursting with sunny fresh tunes and loaded with great songs and performances. His vocals are an uncanny blend of Morrissey and Jonathan Richman, with a dash of Stephin Merritt thrown in. His writing is catching up to his idols, too. "You Are the Light" is a tour de force of chamber pop, sounding like a mix of a Sarah band, Dexys Midnight Runners, and Orlando. The full horn section, the swirling strings, and the cooing background vocals couple with Lekman's sugar-sweet vocals to make this one his best song yet, and about the best indie pop song of 2004. The rest of the disc isn't far behind. "I Saw Her in the Anti-War Demonstration" visits Belle & Sebastian territory with a lazy rhythm and a cute story; "A Sweet Summer Night on Hammer Hill" bops along on a Motown beat and features some truly loose background vocals that make those on Beach Boys' Party! sound like the Anita Kerr Singers. The sweet, summery vibes and wild vocals manage to overcome some duff lyrics about Warren G's "Regulate." Lyrics that clank and defy sense are part of Lekman's charm, though. The spare ballad "A Man Walks into a Bar" is a series of half-told naff jokes broken up by some whistling and harmonica that shouldn't even come close to working. It does, however. Lekman has a knack for memorable songs and winning arrangements. Sure, he is derivative as all get-out, but he's so full of goofy energy and old-fashioned pep that you'd be willing to forgive him just about anything.

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