It’s happened! The peer pressure must have been incredibly mounting. It must have been setting in for years. With all of the tags of being a pop artist maybe Sondre Lerche wanted to put a bump in road, a ditch in the alley to swerve the critics. Maybe he just wanted to prove that “hey, I am so much more than a one dimensional song writer.”
He hinted last year that this album, Phantom Punch would be more “primitive” “more rock” and with more influences coming from the likes of Steely Dan and Elvis Costello. Not that that is a bad thing, but with that, I was a little scared. What was going to happen to my beloved pop song writer?
Will this be the demise? Are the subtle string arrangements going to disappear? Swooning lyrics no more?
But when I first heard the lead single “Phantom Punch” with fuzzed out guitars and arena rock air I was completely stoked! I was hoping that the whole album would be like this. Though a COMPLETE departure from anything he’s done before, a song like “Phantom Punch” could be something Franz Ferdinand would be jealous of and a lesson for all of the hipster rock bands out there trying to churn out similiar songs to earn that dollar. The hooks and guitar licks were insanely irristable and even a tad danceable! Wow, was I excited.
Could the production work from Tony Hoffer (Air, Beck, Belle and Sebastian, Supergrass) have tingled the writing diddies and blood cells that exist in Sondre Lerche’s system? Because this bumb in the road is definitely more like a hill that you’d love to run up and then slide down on a board feeling that fresh and cool Norwegian air flush all over your face. And when you finally come down? You want to do it all over again! He richly brought out Sondre Lerche’s past influences making the songs dynamic with all of the off-time rhythms as well as the jazzier timing from past recordings but with that tasteful gritty rock sound Sondre Lerche wanted to channel.
Sounding like Sondre Lerche’s been binging on caffeine pills rather than taking it easy at the coffee shop, the album blows by you so quickly that you’d be more than eager to press >PLAY again over and over. From the sweet opener of “Airport Taxi Reception” to sweet frolicking pop rocksongs such as “Say It All” then jazzyfied rock song “Well Well Well” and incredibly speed rocking songs such as “The Tape” and “Face The Blood” and the balladry of “Tragic Mirror” and “After All” (sounding like a younger Boby Dylan by the way…well, with much sweeter vocals), Sondre Lerche is all over the place. In every possible direction going over the speed limit, Sondre Lerche’s writing is limitless. Gaining confidence with every album, there’s no hesitation in any of these songs.
But one of my favorites on the album “John, Let Me Go” which is actually a reworking of one of his b-sides for the single Two Way Monologue and previously titled “Johnny Johnny Ooh Ooh” just finds him in the right place. A combination of the bitter sweet pop that he’s known for with a sprinkle some of that magic caffeine he was on showcases just how much Sondre Leche has matured from his previous three albums. Not over doing the lyrically poetry or electrified guitar works and musical compositions, simplicity is where it’s at.
And in the end, how does he topple the this sugar-filled cake? “Happy Birthday Girl” Just when you thought that he had gone to the extent that this album can go, “Happy Birthday Girl” rides out into the sunset so much more retrospective than what you think Sondre Lerche would drone on about. Coming off and singing “hoping you’ll never grow old, hoping you’ll never grow old” while guitars shutter back and forth over the noise, one can only assume that Sondre Lerche may at that state in his writing career though how early where he may be “coming of age.”
What’s next for Sondre Lerche? Only time will tell, and boy does he have a lot of time. But regardless of how much can change in so little time, we have nothing to worry about. This whimsical boy wonder will always have that heart of gold to incessantly procure gems without a doubt in his mind. Phantom Punch is a staple in Sondre Lerche’s career.
MP3: “Phantom Punch” “Say It All” “Airport Taxi Reception”
Purchase: Phantom Punch
Video: “Phantom Punch” & “Say It All”