Band of the Day

2011.11.09

Sondre Lerche

A Norwegian singer-songwriter with timeless and whimsical tunes
If you seek shelter from your past, they'll come to point their fingers where you cast your shadow.
lyrics from Dead Passengers

Norwegian singer-songwriter/guitarist Sondre Lerche (pronounced “Ler-Kay”), began his professional music career in 2000. Along with his band, The Faces Down, Lerche achieved both critical and popular success in his native homeland, which blossomed into international recognition. Born in Bergen, Hørdaland, Norway, Lerche was heavily influenced by ‘80s pop music and began songwriting as a teenager. By 16, he was signed to Virgin/EMI and recorded his debut album, Faces Down. The album was a hit in Norway, receiving critical praise in America, as well, where Rolling Stone Magazine would place it in their top 50 albums of 2002. His second album, Two Way Monologue (released in 2004), brought Lerche even more acclaim. Now, with six albums recorded, Lerche is still experimenting with multiple genres and adventuresome musical backdrops, mixing acoustic and orchestral pop with jazz and ‘80s pop. His latest album, Sondre Lerche, was released in June 2011.

Sondre Lerche's name may look complicated (hint: it's pronounced sawn-druh ler-kay), but the Norwegian-born, Brooklyn-based musician creates songs that are instantly accessible. His sound spans from charming orchestral pop—rich with swooping strings and complex melodies—to reflective, melancholic indie pop. With seven albums under his belt, all before the age of thirty, Lerche has the musical sensibility of someone who's been around much longer than he has. Besides singing, songwriting, and playing guitar, Lerche also plays bass, glockenspiel, piano, percussion, and the Hammond organ. His influences range from Prefab Sprout, to Burt Bacharach, to A-ha—with hints of 50s jazz and 60s Brazilian bossa nova. Songs like "Two Way Monologue" showcase his talent for juxtaposing simple candor with complex-yet-catchy melodies. It starts out with just an acoustic guitar moderately plucking away over his boyish voice, but builds up with a sudden burst of instrumentation—including an infectious Hammond organ hook. Other songs, like "My Hands Are Shaking," aptly demonstrate Lerche's ability to effortlessly shift his vocal range from tenor to falsetto over wry lyrics like “my lips are bleeding from kissing you goodnight.” “Heartbeat Radio” is a swooning pop song with an infectious stop-start rhythm and violin flourishes that remind you of Andrew Bird. “Private Caller” from his 2011 self-titled album is a simple and effortless slice of guitar pop. Lerche’s falsetto vocals float over acoustic guitar and long, ringing chords of electric guitar. This is the work of a man who’s been in the business for a decade and has reduced orchestral indie pop to a science, a very catchy science. His timeless quality has the ability to be the soundtrack for many moods—from intimate and reflective, to sunny and wistful, to bittersweet and melancholic.