Under Review: Sondre Lerche – Heartbeat Radio

Let me start off by saying that I already have a favorite Sondre Lerche album.  After I was introduced to his music via the electrified power pop of 2007’s Phantom Punch, I explored his back catalogue and stumbled upon his masterpiece, Duper Sessions.  A strictly jazz affair, Duper Sessions showed off Lerche’s classic-inspired songwriting, with each of the set’s nine original compositions sounding like they were plucked from the Tin Pan Alley songbook.  Though it would be tough to top that truly remarkable record (it was released when Lerche was only 23), he comes close with his lovely Rounder debut, Heartbeat Radio.  The new album takes the more sophisticated pop route, with many of the songs featuring string sections and extended instrumental outros.  Lerche’s lyrical turns are as breezy as ever as he laments over the state of the radio biz in the title track, and spins an extended “let’s get together” metaphor in “Words And Music.”  Perhaps Heartbeat Radio’s finest song is “Pioneer,” which is incidentally the shortest and most minimally arranged piece on the disc.  The shy fragility that Lerche exhibits in this song is as endearing as the slowly-revealing lyrics.  “Don’t be surprised if I impress,” for example, can not only serve as a coy warning to a potential flame, but to an unsuspecting audience as well.  Throughout Heartbeat Radio, songs stand out by breaking away from the album’s organic feel: “If Only” features some synth stabs, and “I Guess It’s Gonna Rain Today” employs a woodwind section that may or may not really be a single Wurlitzer.  As the record waltzes to a close with “Goodnight,” Lerche seems as though he doesn’t want the listener to leave, but there’s an air of confidence in his voice as if to say he knows that you’ll be back again soon.


~ by E. on August 31, 2009.

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