PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Sondre Lerche: Two Way Monologue

Devon Powers

Sondre Lerche

Two Way Monologue

Label: Astralwerks
US Release Date: 2004-03-09
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

I'm listening to Sondre Lerche and drinking tea on an unseasonably cold spring evening. It's been a rather shit season so far. A few pretty days have reared their heads among the general bluster, but this continues to be the time of year where the days run into one another, the plants still look dead, and the sun sets far too early. My mood as of late has been similar -- neither happy nor sad but largely an unremarkable span of gray blah. No great love, no great loss, no startling success or brutal setback. It's life.

Records are all about the moment they come to you, and in this space, Sondre Lerche comes to me. Two Way Monologue is not the sort of album to muscle you into cheer, but with its moderate coaxing you feel it rise up in you, akin to a good sort of drunk. Tonight, he's an enchanting crooner who effortlessly switches from background to foreground, starting as a ginger entreaty to feeling warmer and brighter and, without warning, becoming the sole cause for such feelings.

Lerche, on his second album, has learned how to slowly release his charms; he even tiptoes into the music, after "Love You", a string and horn soaked instrumental, begins its strange ascent into chaotic, dissonant chromatics. Like an inhale, there's a moment of quiet vacuity before "Track You Down", where he begins singing "down came the sky/ and all you did was blink": words with a simple candor that seems odd in juxtaposition to violin screech of moments before. But these are the right words, the right mood, the right addendum. "Track You Down" is a slow, shiny ballad, built sparingly with acoustic guitar until its first chorus, allowing the earnest lyrics and their precious delivery to sparkle.

At a whopping 21 -- and from a rather remarkable starting point -- Lerche has managed to both grow up and secure an identity on this album, trading his starry-eyed wonder and boyish ebullience for a serene, more seasoned outlook on the world. The song titles are rife with declarative, state-of-the-union phrases -- "It's Over", "It's Too Late", "It's Our Job"; he trots out his familiar catch phrases such as "you know perfectly well", punctuates lines with his now comforting falsetto lilt. The world of Two Way Monologue may find more by way of endings and duties, but even these can't dampen Lerche's contagious musical sensibilities, exhilarating vigor and downright stupefying songcraft. Lerche manages to both push himself and maintain an allegiance to his ways -- something artists twice his age have trouble doing.

The title track is one of the album's most jaunty and seems to erupt spontaneously, like an impromptu party that results when friends gather together by chance. It is a song with surprises in its pockets and tricks up its sleeves -- from its leisurely beginnings, you'd never know that in moments, it will erupt with flying guitar lines, bouncing drums, and then later, full flung whirs and crashes and sonic giggles. Equally surprising is "Wet Ground", for the way in which Lerche allows his voice to go gravelly and scorched, like a '40s tunesmith crooning in a smoky Tin Pan Alley club. The song is layered with cascading vocal harmonies which enter the melody from all directions; there are cosmic aural effects which give it a slightly alien beauty.

Here, for me, Two Way Monologue is the subtle boon which slowly dissolves the mundane. But it will also greet you in your lighter moments, the powerful charge to an already joyful moment. It will be there when things may be dire, in that moment either willing you toward the brighter side, or else sitting still with you, giving you space to contemplate and room to breathe. Sondre Lerche is not only an absurdly talented songwriter and gifted performer, but he is also the most adaptable performer you could ever listen to. Like a friend, he meets you wherever you are, converses with you there, and takes you wherever you may want to go.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.

Books

Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.

Music

Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.

Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Music

The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller
Music

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.

Music

When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.

Music

20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.

Music

The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.

Books

Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.

Music

Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."

Music

50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.

Film

Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.

Film

The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.

Music

Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.