Over the course of six genre-spanning studio albums, Sondre Lerche has unguardedly revealed shades of his personality and emotions, without ever laying claim to any one persona. With every measure and every note, Lerche sheds his skin like a snake, utilizing every aspect of production to enhance his vision. Thematically bound by a shared ambition and scope, his previous records exist as snapshots of an artist in constant motion, playfully chronicling the ripening, collapsing and rebuilding of modern nature. Whether singing about the big, monumental moments in life or musing about the seemingly insignificant ones in between, Lerche’s expansive music catalogue has documented all of the tragedies and victories that will undoubtedly accompany each additional birthday candle.
Since the release of his debut album, 2001’s Faces Down, Lerche has consistently reconstructed his approach to songwriting and performing. In a sense, a new record from this artist is akin to a new computer- within a minute of purchase, it’s already out-of-date, incapable of capturing the lightning speed at which his songwriting develops. And though his seventh studio album, Please, hasn’t even been released yet, Lerche’s mad scientist approach to composing suggests that he is already behind the scenes with the blinds drawn, rapidly heading in a whole other direction. All of this making Please’s September 23rd release date a day that will officially mark the moment when the blinds shift and he lets a little light in, inviting the world to hear exactly what he’s been up to.
The cutting guitar and crisp handclaps of lead album single, “Bad Law,” form Please’s opening notes, immediately establishing this collection of songs to be miles away from anything Lerche has previously recorded. He sings in a deepened, somewhat removed voice, emoting certain words and phrases how one might italicize in print. Further peeling back the layers reveals a sound that is simpler, looser and more vibrant than anything he has ever done. A fact made even more impressive since the sounds and themes are considerably darker. Lerche got divorced during recording sessions, and the disintegration of his eight-year marriage naturally informed the album’s narrative. “At Times We Live Alone,” and “Lucky Guy,” confront the break-up most directly, though notably, they do not dwell on the anger that often precedes the decision to sever ties. Instead, Lerche expresses his regret at not being able to work things out, while making it clear that he doesn’t regret trying to.
Despite the personal upheaval, Please is not exactly a low record. It balances dark moments of tone and rhetoric with bursts of glaring acceptance and brightness, allowing its creator to delve into murky waters without ever losing sight of land. And by arranging the songs in a way that utilizes space, he has unearthed an entirely different way of constructing verse, lavishing the compositions with intriguing sonic oddities without ever sacrificing accessibility. The open fields of “Crickets,” “Legends,” “Sentimentalist,” and “Lucifer” are pulled forward by a deliberate, steady vocal that is cut with an underlying sense of optimism. On the surface, this optimism may be unseen and unheard to most, but something about Lerche’s charm and delivery have always suggested that like everything else, this moment will pass. And by exposing his bruises while simultaneously restoring color to the dull and ashen, the musician explores a deep range of the altering emotions and perceptions that go along with any untimely demise. All of this making Please a unique love letter to his former self and former life, with Lerche choosing to be reinvigorated by the closing of this chapter, instead of being destroyed by it.
Article by: Caitlin Phillips
Photo Credit: Steinar Buholm