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Jens Lekman Will See Himself Now

Posted March 01, 2017 in

"Jens Lekman is history. In his native Gothenburg's Stadsmuseum, he appears in the hasty conclusion to an otherwise thoughtful exhibition of pop music's past in Sweden's second city. (Consider Gothenburg the Manchester — working class and gritty — to Stockholm's cosmopolitan London, with a matching inferiority/superiority complex depending on the occasion.) For some reason, his small info panel sits among Gothenburg's political reggae acts, rather than with his fellow 2000s electro-pop peers Studio, The Tough Alliance, Air France and The Embassy, and offers little context. But wandering the gallery in mid-February gives the tall, skinny, 36-year-old Lekman a good look at himself, and a chance to tell his story in a way that makes much more sense.

Wearing double denim and a permanently lodged baseball cap, he pulls at threads between his music and his Gothenburg pop predecessors: At the outset of his career, local promoters confused his Rocky Dennis persona for a revival of 1950s rockabilly, where artists prefixed their names with Rock or Boogie. Then there's the late-'70s political prog rockers who toured rural Swedish towns with a history of the Swedish working class movement, which inspired Lekman's own 2015 "Livingroom Tour." In the '90s section, his actual peers start to emerge: The hip-hop crew Hammer Hill Click were named for Lekman's working class home suburb, Hammarkullen, and were a big deal in his teens until two of its members — one of whom was Lekman's kindergarten best friend — were killed in a discotheque fire."

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