Sondre Lerche

SXSW Records

Phases and Stages

Sondre Lerche

Faces Down (Astralwerks) Sondre Lerche may well surpass A-ha as Norway's most appealing musical export on the strength of his debut, Faces Down. The lengthy album casts a spell from the outset, opening on a swanky, loungey note with "Dead Passengers," which showcases Lerche's deep, sexy tenor and unassailably cute accent (especially when singing about the "bazement"). Reminiscent of Rufus Wainwright without the drama, Lerche's voice is luxuriant, velvety, and coolly emotive, which complements the album's smooth retro feel nicely. Cheery, bouncy numbers like "Modern Nature," a duet with Lillian Samdal, blend nicely with soaring strings ("You Know So Well") and moddish pieces like "Virtue and Wine" to create a musical palette that alternates between power pop and hip adult contemporary. What's more, Lerche's lyrical sensibilities belie his 20 years. Take "Suffused With Love," for example: "I heard him yell something. It shouldn't be this bad. He's spitting as he says 'Hi.' I catch fire." Very nearly a haiku, these four lines (which comprise the entirety of that track's lyrics) succinctly sum up the confusion of hatred and its stinging afterburn. With this kind of depth at such an early age, Sondre Lerche might just eclipse A-ha yet. (Tequila Rock, Friday, March 14, 10pm)

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