Sondra Lerche, a prodigiously talented young Norwegian, makes the kind ofdreamy, folksy pop that belies his 19 years of age. Writing all his ownmusic, Sondre’s influences are still highly evident, echoes of NickDrake and McCartney’s Beatles and even a hint of Blur canbe heard throughout the album. On tracks like You Know So Well you’d bemistaken for thinking the music was taken from the same sessions thatproduced songs like I Am The Walrus, whilst as his voice rises and pushesat its limits, it often takes on an uncanny resemblance to the late JeffBuckley.
It’s an astonishingly accomplished album, and one that grows on thelistener with each listen. At first his distinctive voice left me cold, butafter a couple of repeats I had been won over. Where the album fails toconvince though is its occasional lapse into rockier territories. When hekeeps things nice and maudlin it seems to come much more naturally. Withjust an acoustic guitar and a simple accompaniment his songwriting abilityis allowed to shine through much clearer than when buried under a morass ofguitars.
Another tendency that the young singer-songwriter could probably do withreigning in is his occasional drift into novelty songs. It’s a thin linebetween the likes of Sgt Peppers and the Frog Chorus – one he sometimesdrifts across, most evidently on tracks such as Modern Nature with itsmawkishly upbeat vocals and, God forbid, spoon solo. It’s a tendency thathovers over half the album, but thanks to the quality of the rest neverthreatens to overwhelm it.
The songs are often gorgeous. No One’s Gonna Come Out and On and Off Again aretwo of the most beautiful acoustic pop songs you’ll hear this year, thestudio sheen removed, and the sound dirtied up a little. Faces Down endsof a high note with the down, out and wasted Things You Call Fate,which combines the best of the folksy parts of the album with a playfulapproach to sounds and song structure. A great debut album, from one of themost promising young artists working today.