Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sondre Lerche - Heartbeat Radio

One minute the dude is orchestrating brilliant numbers that spew with life, the next he’s writing simplified bullshit that wouldn’t sound out of place on a recent Jason Mraz record. Lucky for us, both ends of the spectrum exist concurrently on Sondre Lerche’s Heartbeat Radio. Over the course of 45 minutes, the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Norway artist puts some of his best material ever next to, well, some very average pop songs. The title track highlights his collaboration with the High Llamas’ Sean O’Hagan, displaying a fearless, explosive mastery of strings. Lerche’s vocals are crisp perfection, a flawless mixture of rasp and crystal clarity. “Easy to Persuade” is a throwback to the slick production of the Cure, with distant electric guitar riffs edgily breaking into pretty acoustics and bubbling synthesizer. The influences here are diverse, from 80s synth pop to 70s Brazilian folk. It’s all fine and dandy until it goes overboard. Underdressed Vegas showgirls come to mind when you hear the backup vocals on “If Only,” a tune where sparkling sound effects transform Lerche into a total cheeseball. Heartbeat Radio is like a game of “she loves me, she loves me not” – except we’re peeling off songs instead of pedals.

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