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Sounds like a broken heart
Sounds like a broken heart

He might hail from Gothenburg, Sweden, but Jens Lekman's latest effort is more Australian than it is European. Much of his new album, I Know What Love Isn't, was written after Lekman moved to Melbourne following a bad break-up.

Between playing backyard shows and dropping the odd disco DJ set up and down the east coast, Lekman entered into a friendly relationship with a Melbourne girl that could have scored him permanent residency.

The problem was that if he went through with the proposed nuptials, he wouldn't have been able to tell the story of sham marriage on the title track.

"I think a lot of the album was about how do we look at relationships," Lekman says. "Looking at the forms that you fill out when you're applying for a partnership visa, it's really proof of how narrow our definition of a relationship is. It's between a man and a woman, you live in the same house, you have to know the colour of each other's toothbrush.

"Also I think the whole idea of realising that this may not be a classic romantic relationship right now, but this is my best friend and this is someone that I would truly marry because I love this person."

Just after he moved to Melbourne and set himself up in an apartment, the Black Saturday bushfires raged. That devastating event was explored in The World Moves On.

"Melbourne is really flat and you usually don't have a view of the city but I moved to an apartment on the only hill in Melbourne," he explains. "You could actually see the horizons on both sides from where I lived. I remember sitting on the balcony of this flat I was renting a room in and just having a glass of wine and seeing the smoke on the horizon, and then hearing about it on the TV. I realised just how surreal it all was that I was living in this safe bubble in the city and watching all this mayhem just a few miles away."

While the otherwise breezy song documents a few other experiences in Melbourne, such as getting beaten up by someone asking for a spare cigarette, he says the track sums up life with a broken heart. "I didn't have a clear plan where the album was going and I think each memory just triggered a new memory," Lekman says. "In the end I played the song for a friend, and she said 'Well, this is great, but there's four verses in there and there's absolutely nothing happening'. I said 'Well that's exactly what the song is about'. It's about the aimlessness that follows a break-up."