Sondre Lerche

Tuesday, 09 January 2007

Sondre Lerche, it might seem, is reinventing his music with every album, but what’s really going on is a combination of exploration and evolution. He’s not only building something entirely new with every record, but also building on what he’s already done. His fourth album, Phantom Punch, rocks where last year’s Duper Sessions swings, and what he’s carried over is his smooth croon.

Originally, Phantom Punch was to be his third album, but in order to work with producer Tony Hoffer, scheduling forced him to wait and he made Duper Sessions in the down time. The wait to make Phantom Punch may have been long, but the actual recording only took a couple weeks. Lerche and his band spent a month rehearsing and playing the songs live before stepping into the studio. They wanted to make sure the tunes were second-nature to avoid, as Lerche puts it, “loosing the energy of the song when you’re standing there trying to remember what note comes next.”

When they finally recorded, they tried to capture the songs in one take and even nailed a couple on the first. “I knew if we didn’t get it on the first take we weren’t going to get it and if we couldn’t, then they just weren’t the songs they should be,” Lerche recalls. When talking about the record the word “energy” comes up repeatedly and was the primary focus, which he’ll tell you is in direct response to opening for and watching Elvis Costello perform nightly. Although it was a couple years ago, you can still hear Lerche’s excitement about his discovery of the conductivity of a song. In fact, with four albums under his belt, close to ten years performing and, despite the fact he now lives in New York, Lerche has managed to retain all the wide-eyed, clear-intentioned enthusiasm inherent to a boy from Bergen.

This freshness/sophistication translates into an album full of catchy, effortlessly finessed songs that don’t repeat one another. Lerche has also shaken free of the awkward and cheesy lyrics of his first two albums, but kept the ESL surprise and charm. The title track, “Phantom Punch” and “Face The Blood” are the noisy, obvious attention-grabbers, but the simple “Tragic Mirror,” the smooth and then slap of “Well Well Well” and the silly “She’s Fantastic” are the definite growers.

Phantom Punch is out February 6, 2007 on Astralwerks.

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