Album Reviews

Sondre Lerche – Faces Down

(Source) UK release date: 23 September 2002

Sondre Lerche - Faces Down Sondre Lerche, a prodigiously talented young Norwegian, makes the kind of dreamy, folksy pop that belies his 19 years of age. Writing all his own music, Sondre’s influences are still highly evident, echoes of Nick Drake and Paul McCartney‘s Beatles and even a hint of Blur can be heard throughout the album. On tracks like You Know So Well you’d be mistaken for thinking the music was taken from the same sessions that produced songs like I Am The Walrus, whilst as his voice rises and pushes at its limits, it often takes on an uncanny resemblance to the late Jeff Buckley.

It’s an astonishingly accomplished album, and one that grows on the listener with each listen. At first his distinctive voice left me cold, but after a couple of repeats I had been won over. Where the album fails to convince though is its occasional lapse into rockier territories. When he keeps things nice and maudlin it seems to come much more naturally. With just an acoustic guitar and a simple accompaniment his songwriting ability is allowed to shine through much clearer than when buried under a morass of guitars.

Another tendency that the young singer-songwriter could probably do with reining in is his occasional drift into novelty songs. It’s a thin line between the likes of Sgt Peppers and the Frog Chorus – one he sometimes drifts across, most evidently on tracks such as Modern Nature with its mawkishly upbeat vocals and, God forbid, spoon solo. It’s a tendency that hovers over half the album, but thanks to the quality of the rest never threatens to overwhelm it.

The songs are often gorgeous. No One’s Gonna Come Out and On and Off Again are two of the most beautiful acoustic pop songs you’ll hear this year, the studio sheen removed, and the sound dirtied up a little. Faces Down ends of 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 playful approach to sounds and song structure. A great debut album, from one of the most promising young artists working today.

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Sondre Lerche – Faces Down