Jens Lekman

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Jens Lekman
Jens Lekman at Popaganda 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden
Jens Lekman at Popaganda 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden
Background information
Birth nameJens Martin Lekman
Born (1981-02-06) 6 February 1981 (age 43)
Angered, Gothenburg, Sweden
OriginGothenburg, Sweden
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
Years active2000–present

Jens Martin Lekman (pronounced [jɛns ˈmǎʈːɪn ˈlêːkman];[1] born 6 February 1981) is a Swedish musician.[2] His music is guitar-based pop with heavy use of samples and strings, with lyrics that are often witty, romantic, and melancholic. His work is heavily influenced by Jonathan Richman and Belle & Sebastian, and he has been likened to Stephin Merritt (of The Magnetic Fields), David Byrne,[1] and Scott Walker.[3]

Early life[edit]

Lekman was born 6 February 1981 in Angered, Gothenburg, next to an Estrella factory.[4] As a child, he was not particularly interested in music, but the age of fourteen he was asked to play bass in a friend's cover band. This sparked his own songwriting and he quickly came to write hundreds of songs.[citation needed]

Gradually, he adopted the pseudonym Rocky Dennis, a name he borrowed from the protagonist in the movie Mask. Under this name, he began releasing limited edition CD-R discs, the first of which was 2001's The Budgie. In the early 2000s, he sent a collection of the songs to the American record label Secretly Canadian, who contracted him.[5]

Music career[edit]

From 2000 to 2003, Lekman recorded and released much of his material privately on CD-R. Because one of his songs during this time was entitled "Rocky Dennis' Farewell Song to the Blind Girl", inspired by the movie Mask,[6] Lekman was mistakenly referred to as "Rocky Dennis". Lekman says that it was a "mistake": "someone thought that was my real name cause I had a song about him, and then radio picked up on it, and I never had a chance to change it".[6] He put the confusion to rest with his Rocky Dennis in Heaven EP (2004).

In 2003, Lekman self-released a 7" vinyl EP, Maple Leaves. When the same EP was released on CD by the Swedish independent label Service Records later that year, he was a well-known name.[citation needed] The songs "Maple Leaves" and "Black Cab" were heavily played on Swedish national radio and the former garnered significant attention through file-sharing platforms.[7][8] His work has proven to be considerably more successful in Sweden than America.[9][a] He soon signed a contract with the American label Secretly Canadian for releases outside of Sweden. Heavy touring and his debut album soon followed.

Lekman performing live in Stockholm in 2004

His first album When I Said I Wanted to Be Your Dog was released in 2004, and consisted of recordings made between 2000 and 2004 (some tracks had been previously released independently by Lekman). The album attracted attention among the alternative music press in both Europe and the U.S.[10] The song "You Are the Light" was a successful radio hit, and a video received some rotation in the Nordic MTV and ZTV. In Sweden, the album reached No. 6 on the national chart.[7] Lekman was nominated for three Swedish Grammies, three P3 Guld and three Manifest awards, and the album was named the album of the year by Nöjesguiden.[11][12]

A concert film shot from Lekman's sold-out show with José González at Göteborg Concert Hall in December 2003 was broadcast by Swedish national television in 2005. In June 2005, a compilation CD of Lekman's first three EPs (plus extra tracks) was released as Oh You're So Silent Jens.[13] Lekman's cover of Scout Niblett's "Your Beat Kicks Back Like Death" appeared on Secretly Canadian's SC100 compilation.[14] Night Falls Over Kortedala was released in Sweden on 5 September 2007 and worldwide on 9 October 2007. The single "Friday Night at the Drive-in Bingo" preceded the album's release.[15]

Lekman onstage in the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York, USA in October 2007

Live performances by Lekman have differed in style; at times he has performed alone with only a guitar and a CD player, sometimes doing a cappella versions of his songs, while at other times he has been accompanied by a choir and string quartet. In 2008, he toured with an all-female back-up band (dressed mostly in white) that provided basic rock instrumentation as well as horns and backing vocals.[16] In December 2008 Jens played a short China tour organised by Split Works.[17] In 2010, Lekman released a free song entitled "The End of the World is Bigger Than Love" online. This was his first release in three years.[18]

On 19 March 2011, Lekman played a show in support of libraries during the widespread closures in the United Kingdom where he premiered a new song, "Every Little Hair Knows Your Name".[19]

Lekman's An Argument With Myself EP was released in September 2011 to generally favorable reviews.[20] This was followed up by I Know What Love Isn't in September 2012, Lekman's first full-length album since 2007, also receiving favorable reviews.[21]

On 2 September 2014, Lekman released a 33-minute-long mixtape titled WWJD, which included three unreleased songs: "WWJD", "I Remember", and "What's That Perfume That You Wear?"[22] The mixtape has been described as being "one cohesive experience as intimate as writing a postcard, as pleasant as receiving one."[23]

All through 2015, Jens Lekman released a new song every week on his website for free. They are all titled Postcard with the number of the week, making 52 tracks in total.[24] In parallel, he led a musical experiment called Ghostwriting where he translates into songs stories submitted to him by the public.[25] The first installment was held in Stockholm and yield 5 tracks in Swedish. The second installment was held in Cincinnati and 11 English tracks came out of it. They bring the total of his 2015 output to 68 tracks and they can all be downloaded on his website.

Lekman's 4th proper LP, Life Will See You Now, was released on 17 February 2017, on the Secretly Canadian label.[26]

On 21 March 2022, Lekman's most popular and successful album, Night Falls Over Kortedala, was removed from all streaming services and made unavailable to purchase. This move was met with shock by fans, with whom the album is very popular. Lekman cited legal issues as the main reason due to sampling issues.

On 27 April 2022, Lekman announced the reissue of two of his albums that had previously been made unavailable: Oh You're So Silent Jens and Night Falls Over Kortedala. They were reissued respectively as The Cherry Trees Are Still in Blossom and The Linden Trees Are Still in Blossom. The reissued versions of the albums are composed of re-recordings of all the original tracks, as well as entirely new tracks. The Cherry Trees Are Still in Blossom was released digitally on 27 April 2022, whereas The Linden Trees Are Still in Blossom was digitally released on 4 May 2022. Both albums were released physically on 3 June 2022 via record label Secretly Canadian.


Stephen Metcalf noted that Lekman differs from his influences, among them Morrissey and Stephin Merritt, by fashioning a coyness in his songs about sex – a demeanor that is euphemistic or "even aseptically unsexual" – although he similarly writes of passion and longing.[8] He has often made use of samples, comparable to that of the Avalanches, who he admits to have "rip[ped] off".[27][28][29]



Title Album details Peak chart positions
When I Said I Wanted to Be Your Dog
  • Released: 7 April 2004
  • Label: Service
  • Re-released: 7 September 2004
  • Label: Secretly Canadian
Night Falls Over Kortedala
  • Released: 5 September 2007
  • Label: Service
  • Re-released: 9 October 2007
  • Label: Secretly Canadian
1 192
I Know What Love Isn't
  • Released: 4 September 2012[32]
  • Label: Secretly Canadian
3 137
Life Will See You Now
  • Released: 17 February 2017
  • Label: Secretly Canadian
The Cherry Trees Are Still in Blossom
  • Released: 27 April 2022[33]
  • Label: Secretly Canadian
The Linden Trees Are Still in Blossom
  • Released: 4 May 2022[33]
  • Label: Secretly Canadian


  • Oh You're So Silent Jens (Service Records, 8 June 2005; Secretly Canadian, 22 November 2005) – a collection of previously released singles, EPs, and compilation appearances



  • Jens Lekman/José González (Service Records, January 2004) – 300 copies, contains "If You Ever Need A Stranger (To Sing at Your Wedding)"
  • El Perro del Mar/Jens Lekman (Secretly Canadian,30 October 2004) – contains " I Don't Know If She's Worth 900 Kronor"
  • Jens Lekman/Blood Music (Insound, November 2006) – contains "A Sweet Summer's Night on Hammer Hill", with spoken word introduction
  • "Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo" / "Radio NRJ" (Service Records, 14 July 2007) – 800 copies
  • The End of the World Is Bigger Than Love (self-released, 2010)
  • The Postcards series was released digitally throughout 2015: one song each week. Of the 52, #17 was released on Life Will See You Now.


  • Kajak – Benni Hemm Hemm (2007) – guest vocals on "Aldrei"
  • Något dåligt nytt har häntVapnet (2007) – guest vocals on "Håll ihop"
  • Kingdom Came – Kocky (2007) – guest vocals on "Be Part of It All"
  • Yeah! Oh Yeah! (2009) – Duet with Tracey Thorn for "SCORE! 20 Years of Merge Records: The Covers!"
  • Inside (The Corrections) – Duet with New Buffalo
  • Here Comes the Rain EP (2006) The Ladybug Transistor – Backing Vocals on "Here Comes the Rain"
  • Clocks/Pretender (2007) – Duet with Montt Mardie on "Castle in The Sky"
  • Mena (2010) – Javiera Mena – guest vocals on "Sufrir"
  • Breakfast in America – Viktor Sjöberg (2010) – guest vocals on "A Million Bucks"
  • CORRESPONDENCE (2019) – Collaboration with Annika Norlin

Compilation appearances[edit]

  • En Garde Fanzine CD-R (2003) – contains "F-Word" and "Sky Phenomenon"
  • Based on a True Story (2004) – contains "Be Good"
  • Accelerator Compilation (July 2004) – contains "The Wrong Hands"
  • Risky Dazzle: A Service Party Shuffle (January 2005) – contains "Maple Leaves", "And I Remember Every Kiss (Demo Version)" (previously unreleased), and "You Are the Light (Reprise)"
  • Rallye Cloak 02: Swim Sweet Swedish (24 August 2005) – contains "Boisa-Bis-O-Boisa"
  • SC100 (24 April 2007) – contains a cover of Scout Niblett's songs "Your Beat Kicks Back Like Death" and "Shining/Burning"
  • Four Songs by Arthur Russell (20 August 2007) – contains "A Little Lost"
  • Whip It! (29 September 2009) – contains "Your Arms Around Me"
  • Det ordnar sig (February 2014) – contains a cover of Peter Lunblad's "Ta Mig Till Havet"


  1. ^ a b "Jens Lekman interview at Splendid". Archived from the original on 17 May 2011. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  2. ^ "Jens Lekman Performs in NPR's Studio 4A". NPR. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  3. ^ "Album Reviews: Jens Lekman: Night Falls Over Kortedala". Pitchfork. 5 September 2007. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  4. ^ "Waiting for Kirsten". Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  5. ^ Cohen, Jonathan (16 April 2021). "Secretly Canadian Co-Founder Chris Swanson Looks Back on the Label's First 25 Years". Variety. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  6. ^ a b "Jens Lekman Interview". Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  7. ^ a b "Discography Jens Lekman". Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  8. ^ a b c Metcalf, Stephen (22 October 2007). "Sweden's Greatest Musical Export". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 19 May 2023.
  9. ^ Sanneh, Hannah (29 October 2007). "The Morphing Sounds of Indie Rocker's Range". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 May 2023.
  10. ^ Begrand, Adrien (17 November 2005). "Jens Lekman: Oh, You're So Silent Jens, PopMatters". PopMatters. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  11. ^ Simon, Scott (7 January 2006). "Jens Lekman: Idiosyncratic Pop from Sweden". Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  12. ^ Vie, La Bonne (30 March 2004). "Jens Lekman". NÖJESGUIDEN (in Swedish). Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  13. ^ I-Huei, Go (28 November 2005). "The Swedish Invasion, Moody-Crooner Contingent". Observer. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  14. ^ Cohen, Jonathan (26 January 2007). "Secretly Canadian Artists Cover Each Other On CD". Billboard. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  15. ^ "New Jens Lekman – "Friday Night At The Drive In Bingo" (And Night Falls Over Kortedala Album Art)". Stereogum. 25 July 2007. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  16. ^ BrooklynVegan, Staff (29 October 2007). "Jens Lekman @ Webster Hall, MHOW & on a roof – pics". BrooklynVegan. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  17. ^ "Jens Lekman & Viktor Sjöberg China Tour 2008_Split Works". Archived from the original on 17 March 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2012. (http). (2008). Retrieved on 2012-15-08
  18. ^ Frisicano, Andrew (28 July 2010). "A new Jens Lekman song". BrooklynVegan. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  19. ^ "Jens Lekman pays tribute to Kirsten Dunst, reveals brand new song". Archived from the original on 23 March 2011. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
  20. ^ Houle, Zachary (21 September 2011). "Jens Lekman: An Argument With Myself EP". PopMatters. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
  21. ^ Bloom, Dave (11 October 2012). "Jens Lekman: I Know What Love Isn't, PopMatters". PopMatters. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  22. ^ "WWJD MIXTAPE by Jens Lekman on SoundCloud". Retrieved 12 December 2014.
  23. ^ "In Praise of Jens Lekman's Excellent Curveball, WWJD". Pitchfork. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  24. ^ Feeney, Nolan (5 January 2017). "Jens Lekman announces new album, shares new song". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  25. ^ Joffe, Justin (28 February 2017). "Pop Existentialist Jens Lekman Writes Himself Out of the Picture". Observer. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  26. ^ Kornhaber, Spencer (16 February 2017). "Music to Celebrate the 30-Something Blues". The Atlantic. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  27. ^ Staff, Pitchfork (18 December 2007). "The 50 Best Albums of 2007". Pitchfork. Retrieved 19 May 2023.
  28. ^ Canino, Jeffery (2007). "Music Review: Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved 19 May 2023.
  29. ^ Grow, Kory (2005). "So, Jens Lekman...What's Those Songs About?". CMJ New Music Monthly. p. 10. ISSN 1074-6978. Retrieved 19 May 2023.
  30. ^ " Jens Lekman discography page". Retrieved 2 September 2012.
  31. ^ "Jens Lekman Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  32. ^ "Jens Lekman anuncio su nuevo disco: I Know What Love Isn't". 7 June 2012. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  33. ^ a b "Jens Lekman Announces Partially Remade Versions of Oh You're So Silent Jens and Night Falls Over Kortedala". 28 April 2022. Retrieved 28 April 2022.
  1. ^ Metcalf reasoned this is due to "a couple of minor artistic transgressions. First, he is, yes, it’s true, prone to the sort of twee self-regard that converted Wes Anderson, midcareer, from a promising filmmaker into an antique tea table. Second, his influences and affinities are instantly obvious: Stephin Merritt’s drone, Morrissey’s bite, Belle and Sebastian’s atmospherics, with some of Jonathan Richman’s wild pitch and yaw."[8]

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