Sondre Lerche

Pretty much everyone agreed that the 2002 debut from Sondre Lerche, Faces Down, contained far more potential than your average teenage coffeehouse songwriter. Bacharach-esque pop tunes are difficult enough for seasoned songwriters, but here was a 19-year-old playing songs he’d written years before and even the worst tunes couldn’t be described as anything less than average.

Two years later, Lerche has become far more consistent in his songwriting and it’s both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that there isn’t a bad song to be found in the bunch. A curse because there’s also nothing that jumps out in quite the same way "Dead Passengers" did on his debut.

Still, the Beach Boy-styled background vocals in "Wet Ground" and the confident instrumental intro of "Love You" both come close. The title track is especially strong, ranging from delicate finger-picked melodies to bombastic bursts of brilliant pop and roll.

There are so many reasons to recommend Two Way Monologue. The production is absolutely sterling, the songwriting sharp and the voice, sweet Jesus, the voice. Lerche moves effortlessly between a sweet tenor and a relaxed falsetto, sounding confident but never cocky. He maintains perfect control of his vocals throughout but not in the sterile sense that implies. His personality pours through every playful syllable. You can even hear him smirk.

Two Way Monologue is one of those albums that deserves far more success than it is likely to get. With the right marketing push, Lerche could be the male equivalent of Norah Jones–successful critically, true to his own vision but still commercially viable.

Even if it doesn’t catch on, I’d advise anyone with an interest in classic pop songwriting to pick this album up.


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