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Best of the 00s: Jens Lekman & Joanna Newsome

Posted by November 6th, 2011 No Comments »

Best of the 00s: Gabe Joins the 21st Century
Part 22: Jens Lekman & Joanna Newsome

Nada Co-founders Matt and Gabe are listening to 197 of the music press’s picks for “best albums of the 00s” for a series called Gabe Joins the 21st Century.

Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala
Paste #43

Gabe: If Abba was fronted by Stephen Merritt, the collaboration might produce something quite like Night Falls Over Kortedala. Lush, orchestral pop songs with witty lyrics that sometimes cross the line into excessive cutesiness. I’ll never have this in heavy rotation, but I’ll probably get happy every time my shuffle pops out gems like “The Opposite of Hallelujah,” “Your Arms Around Me,” or “Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo.” Grade: LIKE

Matt: For a guy whose first album employed primarily guitar, voice and simple percussion, Swede Jens Lekman pulls off the Indie-disco-Barry Manilow thing awfully well. At times  with the big arrangements, melodrammatic cresendos and Sinatra vocals  it even borders on parody. But whether it’s the plaintive indie pop of his debut or this record’s baroque crooning, it’s clear that the man writes some great songs (though two about “first kisses” is probably one too many). But, alas: Night Falls Over Kortadela is just too precious to dislike. Grade: LIKE

Joanna Newsom – The Milk-Eyed MenderJoanna Newsom – The Milk-Eyed Mender
Pitchfork #47

Gabe: Joanna Newsom’s vocals are unusually shrill and piercing, like a girly version of Neil Young singing “After The Goldrush.” I really enjoy about half this album  the half that showcases Newsom’s super unique vocals and lyrics against more traditional country/pop melodies. Also, “Peach, Plum, Pear” features a killer harpsichord riff. Another good thing about The Milk-Eyed Mender is that its not Ys. But, for my taste, TM-EM has too many tracks that back precious, literary lyrics with folkie melodies and dull harp strumming. Grade: LIKE

Matt: I’m gonna have to put Ms. Newsome in the same category as martinis and gourmet olives. All three seem sophisticated and stylish and I’d love to count myself among their fans because I know that to do so would illustrate my superior taste and enrich my otherwise pedestrian life. But I don’t. In fact, after countless attempts over the course of the past twelve months, I’ve succombed to the fact I’m not physically able to listen to Milk-Eyed Mender for more than three songs without wanting to crawl outside my skin. I can only hope to someday hear Ms. Newsome’s work with new ears. Grade: DO NOT LIKE

Joanna Newsom – YsJoanna Newsom – Ys
Stereogum #17

Matt: Ys is even more ennervating than Milk-Eyed Mender. It sounds like the incoherent shreikings of a wounded cat. U.S. Government take note: if you ever get me locked up at Gitmo, put this on and I’ll tell you everything I know. Grade: DO NOT LIKE

Gabe: The critical acclaim for Ys has gotta be some kind of hipster secret handshake bullshit. Five tracks ranging from 7:15 to 16:53 in length, consisting of rambling folk invocations of Ye Olde England. Or something. There’s a song about a monkey and a bear that want to run away from a traveling circus. Or something. It’s difficult for me to imagine anyone other than Renaissance fair participants or grad students in English Lit actually listening to this album straight through. Wow am I glad I never has to listen to Ys again. Grade: DO NOT LIKE

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