Review Monday: Jens Lekman – “Hotwire the Ferris Wheel” (featuring Tracey Thorn)

Jens Lekman
“Hotwire the Ferris Wheel” (featuring Tracey Thorn)
Life Will See You Now
Secretly Canadian

Most of the songs that the masterful Swedish indie pop musician Jens Lekman has written usually venture around a dark territory, but Lekman tries to balance it out with blithe and joyful tune and a comedic twist. His latest album, Life Will See You Now, still observes the similar theme, yet Lekman amplifies his finest qualities in this album, making the album exponentially tragic and funny compared to his previous works. On “How Can I Tell Him”, for example, Lekman reflects on his unrequited love of his best friend, a love that he can’t contain anymore and on their way home after a frenetic party, Lekman finally confesses, and the ending is left unexplained. The song’s overall taste is bitter, but “How Can I Tell Him” is a gay theme song that can be functioned as sweet ballad or anthem at the same time. The highlight of the album, however, is a narrative of a two best friends riding on a hot-wired Ferris wheel in a joyride of their lifetime.

Lekman’s writing is as sharp as ever in “Hotwire the Ferris Wheel”, describing an event in a carnival pictorially. “There’s a carnival in town/ Walking your dog past the old fairground/ From inside we hear screaming and laughter/ From roller coasters and merry-go-rounds,” Lekman vividly elaborates, whetting all of your senses. As the story gets sadder, the synth-rock tune is incised by Lekman’s guitar string and a whopping violin in chorus. “Hot-wire the Ferris wheel,” Lekman’s voice swings between the violin’s strain. “Hotwire the Ferris Wheel” is clearly not intended as a sad song, proven by Lekman and Thorn’s conversation at the second half of the song, “If you’re gonna write a song about this then please don’t make it a sad song.” Thorn’s voice, even if it just starts to kick in since the fourth verse, blends perfectly with Pearson’s production. “Hotwire the Ferris Wheel” is full of contradiction, it’s a tropical summer song that is weirdly released in spring musically, but lyrically it’s a reflective song about a real meaning of a friendship.


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