“Days you spent wanting some of Michael Landon’s grace.” Two Way Monologue
June 14th sees the release of Two Way Monologue, the second album from Norway’s Sondre Lerche.
Now 21, Sondre emerged from Bergen, Norway three years ago with his debut album, Faces Down. Reared on a diet of classic 1980s pop, he began playing guitar at the age of eight and had written his first song by 14 and was signed to Virgin Records by 17. The release of his debut album Faces Down, recorded in 2000, was deliberately delayed until after he had finished school the following year.
Two Way Monologue sees Sondre fulfil the promise of his debut with an audaciously non-difficult second album of astonishing maturity and vividly melodic songs. From the fragile acoustics of the melancholic It’s Too Late to the almost symphonic variations of the title track and on to the uplifting shiny pop candy of On The Tower, it’s an album of breath-taking diversity and imagination that refreshes popular music as a creative force.
The album, like its predecessor, was again recorded in Bergen with the same core band, known as The Faces Down. According to Sondre, they were central to the spirit of the album. “I wanted the band performance to be the basis of most of the songs. That’s what makes them shine,” he says. Just as much attention went into the arrangements, from the accordion on Maybe You’re Gone to the pedal steel on Stupid Memory via the French horn on the instrumental Love You.
With influences covering the classic and timeless end of pop songwriting- Brian Wilson, Elvis Costello, Van Dyke Parks, Steely Dan, Cole Porter, High Llamas, Jeff Buckley and a name check in the sleevenotes to the ‘McAloon Brothers’- Sondre sounds like nothing else in the contemporary pop firmament. Although Rufus Wainwright and Ed Harcourt, who Sondre recently toured the US with, are perhaps the closest comparisons.
Two Way Monologue is a beautiful, eloquent and intelligent celebration of genuine pop music. Bereft of cynicism, swimming in a sea of melancholic joy, it will set Sondre on a voyage into oceans new.