23 July 2006

Jens Lekman @ TT the Bear's

Can't speak to Frida Hyvönen's set yesterday, as we missed it entirely; I did manage to get a copy of her CD Until Death Comes, which The Concretes' label Sticky Fingers put out originally in 2005 (it's been re-released by Secretly Canadian this year). Her voice is strong and squarely graceful, although her sound is a little too consistently piano-chick to be really interesting.

Frida Hyvönen - I Drive My Friend (from YSI)

Before I get to Jens, a word about the crowd. Central Square cracks me up, and this was the very Centralest of Central crowds: hipster geeks to their eyebrows and earlobes, and it was hipster happy hour. I spent most of the show trying to figure out what about Jens triggers hipster adoration, because it was clear there was a lot of it going on at this show; it was a show obviously composed of ardent fans--when he flubbed the lyrics of "Pocketful of Money," it was the crowd that gave him the reset point. The music of course--the man's got a dreamboat voice with a tinge of Johnny Cash's gravid bass, as well as a knack for songwriting that oscillates between the quirkily peppy and a dreamy backrub. But the answer I ended with was sort of a sideways slant on both: he's undeniably sentimental, but with enough self-conscious ridiculousness (the quirky lyrics, the mannered brass section, the occasional hyperpop trappings that almost, almost remind a listener of ABBA) that the sentiment doesn't ask to be taken seriously. To a hipster's sincerity-allergic palate, this is where the magic is: sentimentality that can be enjoyed, with a side of the ridiculous so that the listener chooses how seriously to take it.

Regardless of all this, it was a good show. Even though Jens only brought off maybe two-thirds of the songs well, the six backing instrumentalists gave him a layered, vibrant background over which to work--and further confirm that wind and non-guitar string instruments are infiltrating the indie scene, all to the better (although Jens' in particular does raise the quesion--six-piece all-girl backing band: fashion statement or coincidence?). Jens' smile is ecstatically sweet and almost weirdly untouched, he still seems a bit surprised by all the fuss like an awkward kid suprised to be asked to join the popular clique for lunch in the cafeteria.

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