Sondre Lerche is still young enough that his age is considered novelty. When the Norwegian born songwriter released his debut full-length, Faces Down, it was practically all anyone could talk about. Since then, the Scandinavian singer-songwriter has released a handful of EPs and a brand new full-length, and still gets the “boy wonder” thing thrown at him, which is only fair, considering he’s young enough to be the child of most of the music critics writing about him.
On his new album, Two Way Monologue, Lerche is obviously making a statement, yelling to the world, “I’m a grown-up!” Faces Down showed the work of a talented young man with big ideas and big arrangements to back them up. But Two Way Monologue is merely a continuation of the ideas presented on Faces. Structured more like an album and less like a collection of singles, Two Way Monologue is a more cohesive work. The album starts off with a lush, instrumental intro, which leads into the first proper song, “Track You Down,” in which Lerche delivers the standout lyric, “down came the sky/and all you did was blink.” At first acoustic and folky, the song’s chorus abruptly jumps into a full-band arrangement, with some lovely strings floating over everything.
On Monologue, the songs are longer and a bit more elaborate, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who have heard his earlier work. It would be misleading to say that this is a dramatic step forward, but there are some interesting new developments. The title track is an interesting choice for a single, as it approaches the six-minute mark. Nonetheless, it’s a catchy tune and, like many other tracks on the album, passable as Broadway material. As the title may suggest, Lerche sings of people talking at each other and not to each other: “so start the two-way monologues/that speak your mind.”
Later in the album, as on “It’s Too Late,” Lerche explores more loungy melodies, not unlike that of fellow Scandinavians The Cardigans. Occasionally, there are some cheesy moments, like the midi trumpet on “Days That Are Over,” but on the whole, Lerche’s songwriting is without fault.
Two Way Monologue is a splendid continuation of Lerche’s previous work, though it may not present any drastically different ideas. But there’s very little standing in the young Norwegian’s way. After all, he’s only 22 years old.
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Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.