Jens Lekman
w/the Golden Republic, Impossible Shapes Tues March 1, Crocodile, 9 pm, $7.

Although it might be a difficult matter for some people to wrap their heads around, the ideas of being both pop music-obsessed and a discerning music fan aren't always mutually exclusive. Like many other self-conscious music lovers before me, I've suffered a great deal of self-flagellation over my affection for perfect, pristine pop songs--never totally comprehending the joys hard-core record collectors are supposed to find in tuneless walls of noise and jazz music. In recent years, however, I've sort of resolved myself to my fate--finally stomaching the fact that my purgatory will largely be one of string arrangements and perfect harmony--but all is not necessarily lost in my pursuit of erudite snobbery. And I have artists like Jens Lekman to thank for it.

At 23, Lekman is a bona fide pop star in his homeland of Sweden--a nation that knows a thing or two about cloyingly perfect pop music--where he recently scored a number two hit on the Swedish pop charts, and picked up three Swedish Grammy nominations. Here in the States, Lekman is a slightly less familiar name--recently releasing his stateside debut, When I Said I Wanted to Be Your Dog, on Indiana indie label Secretly Canadian to decidedly less acclaim. Clearly a card-carrying pop-music obsessive, Lekman culls his songwriting palette from only the finest of sources--a well that includes the likes of Burt Bacharach, Momus, Stephin Merritt, and (a lot of) Jonathan Richman, and that's without even scratching the surface. Fusing baroque affectations, a syrupy AM radio baritone, and, appropriately, the occasional well-placed string sample, Lekman's music is something of an experiment in impeccable pop taste--a thoughtful, charmingly lighthearted songwriter of impressive intention. Sure, his lyrics--borrowing Richman's sense of goof, minus the loveably wide-eyed naiveté--can get a little cloying, but you've really got to hand it to a guy who can make name-checking Warren G's Regulate sound perfectly nostalgic without so much as a hint of irony. And I've got to hand it to Lekman's arching, artful vision--if only for its further justification of my pop-loving snobbery.