Jens Lekman

Maple Leaves [Service]

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Swedish pop kid Jens Lekman is a name lovers of intelligent, well-constructed pop music should put into their philofaxes immediately. His debut release for Secretly Canadian is a frequently breathtaking four-song EP that takes inspiration from many sources, chief among them the Magnetic Fields (both vocally and in the toy-town orchestration) with a little Todd Rundgren, Harry Nilsson, and the Smiths thrown in to spice up the stew. The songs on the record are built around what sound like tinny loops of '60s pop songs ("Black Cab"'s intro is a note-perfect copy of the Left Banke's "I've Got Something on My Mind"), full of twinkly bells, chiming guitars, and melancholy strings. "Maple Leaves" and "Black Cab" are wonderful songs; Lekman's unerring sense of songcraft and resolutely downbeat yet lovable vocals make them the kind of songs you'll want to hear over and over. "Sky Phenomenon" is less poppy and more introspective, with the instrumentation stripped down to piano and Lekman's aching vocal. Making the EP a complete success is his spot-on cover of the Television Personalities' "Someone to Share My Life With," which captures the incredible emotion of the lyrics without going over the top musically. Maple Leaves is a solid debut that points to greatness in the near future.

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