Published Sep 23, 2014Norwegian songsmith Sondre Lerche has been putting out records since he was a teen in his hometown of Bergen. From his fresh-faced, sweet indie-pop beginnings to hitting the guitars and hooks (and even dancefloors) harder on albums like Phantom Punch, Heartbeat Radio and 2011's self-titled LP, Lerche has delivered his fair share of both syrupy love songs and melancholy wallowers.
It's no secret that his latest full-length Please is his first since the dissolution of his marriage, but it would be unfair to label it as a sad, bitter or angry divorce album. There are still triumphant moments of upbeat pop ingenuity on tracks like "At a Loss for Words" and the infectiously funky lead single "Bad Law." There are, however, traces of a narrative. The fuzzy, start-and-stop guitars on "Crickets" mix with layered vocals and echoing background "hey"s, giving the impression that Lerche is having a conversation with himself and revealing some serious introspection. There's regret ("Legends") and confusion ("Sentimentalist"), and melody completely flies out the window on "At Times We Live Alone," with f-bombs and his cracking voice abandoning hooks in favour of raw emotion.
Lerche makes a deal with the devil on "Lucifer," albeit one with sparkling synths and a pulsating backbeat that wouldn't be out of place on a dancefloor. He also toys with a more digital sound on "At a Loss For Words," manipulating his falsetto and breaking away from traditional instrumentation. It continues on album closer "Logging Off," on which the vocals echo in and out and a surprise horn breakdown works its way in. There's a feeling by the end of Please that Lerche has worked through a lot, though it's more of a subtle catharsis than a malicious airing of dirty laundry or expression of hopeless despair, which makes for a captivating and satisfying listen. (Mona)