Release Date: Feb 6, 2007
Record label: Astralwerks
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Review Summary: Phantom Punch is edgy and aggressive but still refined, cohesive, and catchy.I look at Sondre Lerche’s musical career as a boxing match. For all these years, he’s been throwing small, effective jabs at us that hinted towards his musical talent and lyrical sophistication. To this point, his songs have been lush, easygoing pop songs, like Sondre taking it easy around the ring.
Sondre Lerche threw his fans for a loop with his last record, the jazzy, low-key Duper Sessions. While it was suitably classy and sophisticated, those who had come to love his snappy and intelligent pop songs were left in the lurch. Phantom Punch marks a return to form, but with some interesting alterations. The record's not as arranged as Two Way Monologue, with less instrumentation on hand and no traces of the soft rock (strings, lush vocal harmonies) that softened that album's edges to great effect.
On 2006’s jazzy Duper Sessions, Norwegian singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche staked his claim as a cabaret tunesmith. This time out, he evokes ’80s Britpop at its zenith, with Duran Duran-ish guitars and synths underpinning lyrically self-aware ditties like the title track. Quavering but sturdy, his tenor finds tenderness, longing, and regret in such downbeat acoustic gems as ”Tragic Mirror.” Phantom Punch may not pack the razzle-dazzle of Duper, but it just might help this gifted performer cement his rep for smartly crafted alt-pop.
There's a lovely, fizzy confidence to Sondre Lerche's fourth album; in places it feels as bright and effervescent as a bag of lemon sherbets. You can tell that many of the songs were recorded live, the sound is that fresh. Opening tracks Airport Taxi Reception, The Tape and Say It All are infectiously exuberant, their singalong choruses backed with tingly, tropicalia-influenced guitars, snappy handclaps and crisp drumming.
Following the jazz-pop indulgence of last year's Duper Sessions, LP No. 3, Sondre Lerche comes out swinging on Phantom Punch. Just don't expect a knockout. While the prolific Norwegian singer-songwriter bobs and weaves with the best of Scandinavian pop, taking jabs at Bacharach and early Costello, Punch buries its best shots behind too much guitar and gratuitous arrangements.