Sondre Lerche Two Way Monologue

It might seem incongruous to describe such a fresh-scrubbed white boy as "exotic,” but Norwegian singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche has been greeted on these shores like an unusual pop artefact to be carefully examined under a glass cover. Not that Lerche’s brand of earnest, enthusiastic, unabashedly romantic tunefulness is so innovative, but the likes of him haven’t been seen on a major label release sheet in quite some time. Regardless, his is a welcome presence — a swoony sweetheart who’s exactly the sort your parents want you to bring home — all blushes and bashful shoe scuffing — who’ll go home and write a song about your dimples. Songs like the weather-themed "Wet Ground,” with its barbershop quartet-style backing vocals, might just seem too square for words, but therein lies the mysterious appeal of Sondre Lerche. You’d think he’d be ridiculed, but instead you find yourself entranced by the power he wields over the melodies at his command. He may be an apple-cheeked sweetie, but he’s also in command of some of the best arranging instincts this side of collaborator Sean O’Hagen (High Llamas). This is his second excellent full-length album — and both were written and recorded while Lerche was a teenager. Imagine how powerful he’ll be when he’s old enough to get his heart smashed into little bits. (Virgin)