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Jens Lekman’s “Who Really Needs Who” Knows It’s Hard to Make Friends as an Adult

Jens Lekman’s “Who Really Needs Who” is a dispatch from the first day of the new year. “January first, 2018 / I’m writing you now, Annika Norlin,” he begins, and he means that: the song is the first missive in Correspondence, a monthly back-and-forth song exchange between Lekman and fellow Swedish indie-pop musician Annika Norlin (who’s recorded as Hello Saferide and Säkert!).

Lekman is the type of guy who really goes for ambitious projects: In the past, he’s written weekly singing “Postcards” and asked fans to give him real-life stories to be turned into songs. Following last year’s more traditional album Life Will See You Now, he’s back to unorthodox presentations. The lyrical dateline gives “Who Really Needs Who” the immediacy of breaking news, but Lekman finds room to meditate on the nature of friendship, and how difficult it can be to nurture between busy and socially anxious adults. Along the way he tells a story about how he first met Norlin in New York City, and another about befriending a refugee through a volunteer gig.

“I went to the library to do research on correspondence in literature and was struck by how you had to be dead and declared a genius for your correspondence to be published,” Lekman wrote in an accompanying statement, which itself presented as correspondence. “That’s sad, I thought. I talked to Annika about the idea and we decided this would be great to do together while we were still alive and before we were declared geniuses.”

“We actually have no idea what this project will end up being except for that we decided to use one instrument only,” Norlin replied. “Which is something we may or may not stick to. The recordings will be pretty low key but because we are trying to impress each other it might actually turn out to be worth listening to.”

If you’re pondering strategies for sticking to your own new year’s resolution this month, allow Lekman and Norlin to suggest trying a little friendly competition. If they keep this up all year, they’ll have a collaborative album worth of material by December. Listen to “Who Really Needs Who?” via the official Correspondence website.