Pop songs normally are repetitive in their chorus and in their melody, each of which is a simple combination of a couple chords. This can lead them to be…well…repetitive, but in a different sense. This kind of repetitive gets stale after the same after the same tune has been played for the listener so many times within the space of one song, the melody exposed to the empty air where there is no longer interaction between the listener and the song. The listener has tuned out and given up and left the song sitting on the counter in his brain, remaining an inert something in the background somewhere, and where, it doesn’t really matter anymore, because its old and crusty. Best to just leave it there until Mom comes by and throws it away.
The songs that have a longer shelf life, packed with artificial preservatives to keep them fresh are enjoyed for longer and become hits with the kids, sugar-cereal and bubble-gum pop. While these treats are just as listenable as they always were, they are replaced by other cereals and bubble-gums, imitations with a little something extra to keep the coming back to them instead of the old favorites. This happens continuously, and there doesn’t seem to be much of an end in sight. Not every pop artist falls victim to this pattern. To wit: Sondre Lerche’s Phantom Punch, an album which has accomplished something quite difficult, if not mysterious, within pop music.
Stuff like Phantom Punch, while keeping to the simplicity of a pop song, never gets old and sticks with kids like something out of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. These Everlasting Gobstoppers, while nothing but a simple candy treat like all the rest, has no need for ingredients that are added to preserve freshness. While sticking to the same familiarity of a jaw-breaker, Sondre Lerche’s songs on Phantom Punch have subtle changes in flavor (such as the shift from the buoyant “Airport Taxi Reception” to the rocked out “The Tape”), small variations in vocals, whether it be the lyrics or Lerche’s malleable voice, or just different highlights in the rhythm (like in the syncopated shuffle of the title track), or even something beyond the most qualified of candy connoisseurs who consume it all day, sometimes without even consciously doing so.
There’s something within Lerche’s Wonka confections like a secret ingredient, perhaps beyond the creators complete knowledge, a sort of Chemical X that he discovered and is studying it in its behavior in solution. In Lerche’s scientific method, Phantom Punch certainly produces favorable results, providing certain intrigue and possibly another hypothesis to follow, deeper into the territory he has ventured into.
Elvis Costello and the Attractions – Trust
Badly Drawn Boy – The Hour of Bewilderbeast
Squeeze – Argybargy