Album Reviews

Sondre Lerche – Two Way Monologue

(Source) UK release date: 16 August 2004

Sondre Lerche - Two Way Monologue Second album time already for Bergen’s Sondre Lerche – not bad for a 21-year-old who writes all his own songs and seems to play most of the instruments. Lerche has a winning way with bittersweet songs, and knows how to orchestrate on the evidence of the extended intro.

Track You Down is a breezy, pleasantly off-key start, the author showing a lightness of vocal tone and a hint of falsetto. Here, and throughout the album, a subtle humour is in evidence, often suggested by an inflection in the voice or a touch of cheekiness in the backing. Close inspection reveals an intricate web of instrumentation, all the more surprising as the finished result comes across as quite lo-fi.

Two Way Monologue, the jaunty title track, looks at parental communication problems and proves the most substantial song here, its confusing ending no doubt one of Lerche’s more ironic observations. Days That Are Not Over adds some nice vibe and keyboard effects, even brass, whilst Wet Ground appeals in its childlike simplicity, slowing the mood and tempo. Both pick up again with shades of Semisonic for Counter Spark.

Throughout the album, Lerche seems troubled and mildly obsessed by situations that “are over”. Or not, as the case may be, as the song It’s Over, with its Divine Comedy orchestration throwbacks, begins with the words “it’s not over after all”. Confused? Clearly the man is in denial! Drums return, softly, to the country inflections of Stupid Memory, the most carefree song on the album.

As well as Lerche’s melodic way he shows himself as a lyrical inventor too, with It’s Our Job a fine example, a winding chromatic tune the perfect setting. Put together with his skill as an orchestrator this means the music never stands still.

This is a fine second album, to so many the “difficult” opus, but not to Lerche, who takes such trivialities in his stride. As Maybe You’re Gone finally starts to acknowledge that it could be over after all, Lerche muses poignantly that “I’m stuck for now, it seems”. Musically, nothing could be further from the truth.

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