The Needle Drop

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


Swedish crooner Jens Lekman dropped a new video recently for the title track from his forthcoming album I Know What Love Isn't. This album was released early to people who pre-ordered it, so I've had some time to enjoy it for quite a while already, and although I personally love it all the way through, I always find myself drawn back to this song in particular. In its three minutes and 33 second duration, "I Know What Love Isn't" offers a condensed version of practically everything great about Lekman's music, from the carefree melody and playful arrangement to the brilliantly simple yet evocative lyrics and Lekman's deep, lilting voice.

I Know What Love Isn't has been described as a breakup record, but this song eschews all the cliches that such a brand might suggest; it is neither melodramatic nor particularly sad, but Lekman's conversational storytelling nevertheless resonates with me as someone who's been through breakups like his before. In the song's most moving verse, Lekman details a conversation with a friend of his to whom he wants to get married, "but only for the citizenship."

"Do you want to go see a band?" he asks, "No, I hate bands. It's always packed with men spooning their girlfriends, clutching their hands, as if they let go, they would lift from the ground and descend. I don't know what love is, but I know what it isn't."

If that doesn't hit you right in the feelings, I don't know what will.

Anyway, the video is a rather minimalist affair, featuring footage of Lekman and his stripped down backing band performing against a white background. It has a kind of heavenly quality to it, which is ironic given the subject matter of the song. Towards the end, the video suddenly starts to align thematically with Lekman's lyrics. As the camera pans away from him in the final shot, the viewer sees his band members' instruments strewn about the ground, but the players are nowhere to be found. Lekman stands with his head down, clutching his guitar, alone once again as the final notes play out.

I Know What Love Isn't is out officially on September 4th via Secretly Canadian.