There’s a lot of whimsy tucked away in the fjords and mountains of Norway. Much of that, thankfully, has been instilled in the musicians that hail from that nordic kingdom. In 2001, a sweet-faced Sondre Lerche was given as a gift to the world. A talented folk singer and guitarist that was so precious it was impossible not to coo over him. His career has evolved from charming darling to jazz singer to 80s pop-obsessor.
With his seventh full-length album Please, Lerche takes a yet another step in a rather unexpected direction.
To understand the sound of the album, it’s best to understand the place Lerche was coming from. Fans will have known that the songwriter and his wife, Mona Fastvold, filed for divorce in 2013 after the completion of his work for the soundtrack for her first film. A turn of events like that would make many believe that Please would be a somber album of ballads and heart-ache. Instead, Lerche has delivered his most pop-centric “dance” album yet. In a way he has a divorce to thank for helping him produce one of his better albums in a while.
The sound on Please often seems to fall victim to what can be referred to as “indie-music-cliches” – that would be the group chants and heavy on dead guitar lines. See through that and the melodies that Lerche is so famous for creep in. It’s a little bit too experimental in places and that begins to sound almost too noisy – like trying to read someone’s unclear thoughts.
Lerche’s lyrics are better than ever. Even if they are a bit muddled by noise and feedback. After the album settles down from the opening number and first single “Bad Law,” it is a bit easier to sort through. Tracks like “Crickets” and “After the Exorcism” keep the album moving at an interesting pace, interesting here meaning exactly as it should: complex and unusual. The Norwegian has proved yet again that he is a cut above when it comes to making a great pop song.
While Please probably isn’t the best in a long line of great albums, it does deliver plenty of things to smile about. This isn’t an album that will please everyone because many times change is difficult to accept. But what is easy to accept is an artist that wants to deal openly with their emotions and that is as refreshing as ever.