This year Sondre Lerche finally shares part two of his most ambitious musical project so far. Anchored by parallell universe-megahit “Bad Law”, 2014’s remarkable break-up record “Please” received two Norwegian Grammy nominations, as well as being described as “a pop masterpiece” by Popmatters, who listed it as one of 2014’s best records.
The sequel - of sorts - is called “Pleasure”. The heart is confused, the body is restless. It’s spreading to the music, which offers both hedonistic escape, ruthless self-examination, helpless indecision and - of course - tremendous pleasure. This is Sondre Lerche in limbo.
Lerche is an artist who never seems to lose the desire to evolve. His curiosity constantly puts him in touch with new impulses, as he combines contemporary inspirations with his well-known appetite for the infinite wealth of musical delights of the past. Lerche steals, juxtaposes, and cultivates ever-changing rituals of creation that become an effortless part of his unusual musical vocabulary. His melodies always find their own unexpected ways. He still knows to occasionally keep the musical vibes romantic, as in infectious first single “I'm Always Watching You”, while the lyrics candidly dissect the masochistic side-effects of digital espionage via social media - the sad act of longing for someone you gave up in real life.
In “Violent Game”, recorded live in one inspired take with his tremendous band, Lerche takes what in theory might be a breezy bossanova, and turns it into an inferno of noise and moans, underlining the titular warning with an unrelenting guitar solo that anyone who has experienced Lerche in concert will instantly recognize as uniquely his. The sultry and creepy “Siamese Twin” sneaks up on you like a co-dependent neighbor - or unrequited lover - offering both tension and release, while “Serenading in The Trenches” maps out a tumultuous relationship, plagued by mutual narcissism and intense passion. “Soft Feelings”, the opener, and the album’s unofficial mission statement, is an almost 6 minute long odyssey of ambivalence, at the sonic intersection between New Order and Stock, Aitken & Waterman.
Elsewhere Lerche seems inspired by everything from italo disco, house and techno, to artists as diverse as Broadcast, Janet, Stereolab, Madonna, and the late George Michael - always with juicy chords and grooves up his sleeve. Vocally, you could argue that Pleasure (and not 2006’s Duper Sessions) is Lerche’s actual crooner-album, from the way he exudes a new vocal intensity and boldness, echoing suave, conflicted pop-crooners such as Bryan Ferry and Scott Walker.
Amidst wild cries of joy, claustrophobia and lust, there’s an explosive, frantic energy throughout “Pleasure” that never let’s you - or the artist - off the hook. You’ll want to dance and cry to these songs - like Sondre already wishfully imagines you are, in the incredibly catchy “Reminisce”. All of which is to say: you’ll want to experience “Pleasure” live in concert.
Thankfully there will be plenty of opportunities for that as Lerche and his exquisite band embark on an extensive tour throughout America, Europe and beyond in 2017. For your pleasure.