Release Date: Sep 23, 2014
Record label: Mona
The cliché “love him or hate him” doesn’t quite work in describing the discography of Norwegian singer/songwriter Sondre Lerche; “like or dislike” is a more appropriate fit. Even if one isn’t keen on Lerche’s jazzy brand of indie pop, he’s so pleasant sounding of a musician that outright hate seems an impossible emotion to muster. At its worst, his music is inoffensive; or, as Rob Mitchum tried to coin in his Pitchfork review of Lerche’s 2002 debut Faces Down, “EZ indie”.
Please is Sondre Lerche’s seventh studio album in a recording career spanning 13 years and multiple genres: from his bossa nova- and folk-inflected debut Faces Down to the spiky power pop of 2007’s Phantom Punch via detours such as 2005’s jazzy Duper Sessions and even a Hollywood movie’s soundtrack album (Dan In Real Life). The common thread of all these releases is Lerche’s winning way with a melody and his talent for off-kilter arrangements that usually stay on the right side of quirkiness. Both are on display across Please’s 10 tracks.
Hai! Norway’s very best kept secret Sondre Lerche is back! Fantastik. Did you know that Please marks album number seven for the perpetually baby faced Brooklyn-resident? It feels like many, many moons ago that Lerche’s name first crossed my cochleae: it was around the time of 2007’s Phantom Punch, I think. That, shall we say, more ‘plugged in’ record hardly rewrote the rulebook for strummed pop-rock fare, but I’m not sure it really mattered.
Should we believe Sondre Lerche when he goes on the record saying he’s no sentimentalist? This is a guy who has made a career out of pumping out charmingly polite love songs in a strictly European pop rock tradition. It’s not unfair to say that sentimentality has run thick through the Norwegian singer’s catalog since he started shipping albums across the pond in 2001. Yet here he is, proudly proclaiming on Please‘s strongest song, “I loved you a lot, but I’m no sentimentalist.” I think he’s in on the joke, though; the song is called “Sentimentalist”, no negative modifier to be found.
Over his last couple of albums, Sondre Lerche consolidated a career's worth of jumping from style to style and became a focused, sophisticated singer/songwriter who seemed likely to release easy-to-swallow, hard-to-remember albums until he packed it in. Not that that would be a terrible thing; many people have done much worse. Luckily for his fans, but not so lucky for him, his divorce from his wife of eight years proved to be the kick of inspiration that boosts his 2014 album Please beyond being just another perfectly fine album and into something raw, real, and memorable.
It was of some surprise to learn that Please, the new offering from the fresh-faced singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche, will be his seventh studio-album. It shouldn’t have been really; after all, the Norwegian is one of the hardest working in the business, soundtracking films (Dan In Real Life, The Sleepwalker) and touring like there’s no tomorrow. But Lerche still has a freshness that keeps his work exciting and relevant, and Please is no exception.