“This album was a cycle that I had to go through.”

That, explains Jens Lekman before the final song of an emotionally resonant night, is the most satisfying way to describe this confusing point in his career. Having built up a passionate following from his first two albums proper, both stunningly beautiful, lyrical and unashamedly sentimental celebrations of life and love, his current album, “I Know What Love Isn’t” is the sound of Lekman falling out of love with romance.

A worrying prospect, perhaps, when you consider that his live shows have always carried a reputation of joy and fulfilment. Concerns, in the end, are ill-placed. Even if the subject matter has a more curdled, acerbic bent, it still comes from an artist with a uniquely lucid world-view, and a capability of expressing the most complex personal issues in the most eccentric and relatable manner.

From the opener ‘Someone Else’s’, and its understated cry of desolation (“Sleeping on my arm until it becomes someone else’s”), to fellow new song ‘The End Of The World Is Bigger Than Love’ – the very sentiment of which would have shattered the Jens Lekman of 2007 – there is an on-going villain of the piece, a character we can only assume to be very real, who is having as much control over tonight’s proceedings as any of the five musicians on stage.

Despite all this, spirits remain high throughout, a sort of triumph in adversity. Most intervals between songs are filled with frequently laugh-out-loud anecdotes, including Lekman’s memory of stalking Kirsten Dunst after she mentioned his music once in an interview. As personal as these songs may be, Lekman finds a certain glamour even in such abject heartbreak. Maybe this is the same wry, idealistic writer that we fell for after all.

Understandably, old songs are only included when they remain appropriate (‘Friday Night At The Drive-In Bingo’, for example, may have felt a tad out of place), but nevertheless classic tracks ‘Black Cab’ and ‘The Opposite of Hallelujah’ are as jubilant as they’ve ever been. The trademark violin strands that cloak each song are still present, acting as distant echoes of childhood memories, rekindling more innocent summer times in the same way that string samples do in the music of The Avalanches.

It might not be the sun-bursting celebration that he could have put on during previous tours, but Jens Lekman is still a one-off presence on the music scene. As ‘Every Little Hair Knows Your Name’ brings the night to a tender close (“Every cell in this body has been replaced since I last saw you/But the memory is in the DNA”), the lasting impression is of the evolution of Lekman’s songwriting character. If this is the cycle he needed to go through, then we wait with some anticipation for what sort of Jens Lekman emerges on the other side.

Max Pilley

I'm a refugee in Manchester, having successfully escaped Birmingham in 2007. I'm a soon-to-be journalism student, used to edit the music section of the Manchester Uni paper, and have done a little radio production to boot. I've been adding bits and pieces to Silent Radio since 2012, mostly gig reviews, but a few albums too. Also hoping now to get involved with the brilliant radio show. When doing none of that, you can usually find me at some gig venue somewhere around town.