Saturday, May 25, 2013

Song of the day

"Some Dandruff On Your Shoulder", by Jens Lekman.

Jens Lekman's most recent album, "I Know What Love Isn't", has slowly crept up on me. I wasn't sure about it at first. It contains a shift in the frame of reference of Jens' songs, in the sense that he is no longer singing about using his one telephone call from the police station to call up a radio station to dedicate a song to a girl. You might drag the word "maturity" into the picture, perhaps, but he is still ultimately singing songs about love, and he still has a wonderful power of observation. The latter is enhanced, for this listener, by the fact that much of the album is drawn from Jens' experiences living in Melbourne, the city from which we drove away, we thought temporarily, 14 years ago. I suppose that makes us "expats", although The Age remains the only newspaper we still buy on a regular basis.

Jens was there through the bushfires. We weren't, and I felt awful for finding it difficult to engage with the terrible events of that day, particularly given that I had lived through bushfire seasons on the farm in the past, and even though we had experienced our own in Canberra only a few years earlier. But it only took the first sixty seconds of "The World Moves On" to reduce me to tears. And it isn't even "about" the bushfires.

But that's a song for another day.

"Some Dandruff On Your Shoulder" is what we are here for now. It is a typical, deceptively easy-listening Jens Lekman song, right from the opening reference, presumably intentional, to The Carpenters. I'm sure that if you are a girl it will make you instantly fall in love with him. If you already are in love with him, I'm sure it will make you fall in love with him all over again. But there's plenty in it for the boys as well. You might call what he does charity-shop soul music: Jens Lekman takes other people's discards and works them into songs that are entirely his own. I don't know how he does it, but I will always be grateful that he does.

Maybe it is for softies only. But I don't really think that's true.