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Heartbeat Radio

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Album Review

Over the course of his short career, Norwegian singer/songwriter Sondre Lerche has changed course more times than Steve McQueen racing through the streets of San Francisco in Bullitt. It's part of his charm that you never quite know what he's going to do next. From the chamber pop he started out with on his first two albums (like the brilliant Two Way Monologue) to the late-night jazz album (Duper Sessions), the punky new wave record (Phantom Punch), and the soundtrack (Dan in Real Life), he's been somewhat of a chameleon. It's also part of his charm that everything he's done up to Heartbeat Radio has been very good. Lerche's songwriting is tricky but light on its feet, emotionally nuanced and quick-witted, too. His voice is rich and sweet, the musicians he plays with are always good, and his musical taste is always spot-on. Heartbeat Radio not only keeps with this tradition, but it's his best work to date. Rather than being some kind of surprising U-turn, the album is a consolidation of everything he's done so far. It has his best songwriting, most effective vocals, and most accomplished sound, and stands as some of the best modern pop around at the end of the decade. Lerche draws from classic sophisticated pop throughout, whether making reference to Prefab Sprout on the wonderfully smooth "I Cannot Let You Go" or Randy Newman on the melancholy "I Guess It's Gonna Rain Today," dipping into loungy atmospheres on the swooning "Like Lazenby," or tripping through the flowers like a lovestruck sunshine pop singer on "Words & Music." He also adds some spunk to the proceedings with cynical slams on the music biz ("Goodnight") and the radio ("Heartbeat Radio") that call to mind Elvis Costello at his most bitter, and peppy rockers like "Don't Look Now" and "Easy to Persuade." It's a well-rounded, extremely listenable album from a really talented singer/songwriter. If this is the style Lerche decides to stick with for a while, that will be cause for a round of hearty cheers from fans of smart, sophisticated guitar pop everywhere. If you are a fan of said music and you don't know Sondre Lerche, this is the place to start the discovery process.

Customer Reviews

Sugar & Spice

When I first heard his music in Dan In Real LIfe i Fell in love! Its hard to believe that when i heard sondre's new album i fell in even deeper! every song is beautiful! LOVE LOVE LOVE this album!


I love his new album it has a really nice feel to it his voice is amazinggg. I can't wait to see him in concert! He's so hott

Pleasant, but average

The most salient point i can make about this album, and Lerche's music in general, is that it's pleasant music, but not quite good enough to keep. Most of this album is aggressively average and forgettable at best. Mildly annoying and too experimental at worst. He's got a Josh Rouse-like maturity/pleasant sound and decent-to-good mellow vocals like Rouse, but all too often he's coming off too much like Wilco at their most weird and pretentiously experimental.

That's really his main drawback. It's a shame, because he really shows lots of talent and promise and he could clearly make some great music, but he often tries too hard. If he could keep it in the pocket and just give us straightforward and non-overdressed tunes then he could really be something special.

As it is, his least weird ones are by far the best tunes on here and the only keepers - and there's only 3 of them. There's two 3 star songs and one 2 star song on this album. The rest are throwaways.


Born: September 5, 1982 in Bergen, Norway

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s, '10s

By the time Sondre Lerche had released his major-label debut (2002's critically acclaimed Faces Down), the 19-year-old Norwegian was already a veteran of the music industry. Signed to Virgin Norway in 2000, Lerche released the chart-topping EP You Know So Well in February 2001. A commercially successful follow-up EP, No One's Gonna Come, was released in June of the same year, accompanied by numerous local performances and increasing industry buzz. Lerche's distinctive voice and natural talent for...
Full Bio