If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Certainly that would appear to be what charmingly talented Norwegian born songwriter Sondre Lerche believes. This eponymous album, his sixth, follows 2009’s Heartbeat Radio and is characteristically compact, catchy, sweet and simple. No song here even risks outstaying its welcome.
Recorded live to tape in his now native Brooklyn and mixed in a relatively short period, there’s a spontaneous and direct air about the classic Sondre pop fizz of Private Caller. The way he can flip to falsetto to alter a chorus and fit lyrics to a melody in a peculiar way is very distinctive. Several songs are bolstered by gorgeous swooping strings including opener Ricochet. The pizzicato Coliseum Town displays his knack at an unusual chord change that stops things getting too sugary.
The fuzzy electric guitar crescendo of the waltzing Domino is the closest he gets to a rockout. While the shambolic lo-fi shuffle of Living Dangerously and muted groove of When The River hint at some intriguing twists and turns. The lilting sparser feel of Tied Up To The Tide is melancholy and slower with shades of M Ward. Perhaps this could be an avenue to explore more. He’s already displayed such a way with a punchy melody, that future albums could risk being repetitive if he doesn’t vary the mood a little, strike out and experiment.
It’s hard to be too critical, however, when Lerche and collaborators including Midlake drummer McKenzie Smith and longtime producer Kato Adland have produced a snappy clutch of alt-pop gems. For new fans, this is a pretty good introduction. For fans who already own all his previous work, it’s more of the same, but so well-crafted that they probably won’t mind.