Hardly a year goes by that Sondre Lerche doesn’t have a new project out, whether it’s a studio album, a live record, a jazz collection or a Hollywood movie soundtrack. Some years, he releases more than one. 2014 was one of those years, where he headed up the score for Norwegian indie film The Sleepwalker, directed by his (now ex-)wife Mona, and just recently he released his seventh proper album Please – which is centred around why she’s the ‘ex’.
Please is a divorce album. Songs that acknowledge the change – pre and post-separation, the loss, the appreciation of having loved, with lyrics that are sometimes painfully direct accompanying music that is oddly upbeat.
There’s something about a breakup album that cuts through everything else and automatically becomes the most personal thing one can ever make. Please is that record for Sondre, who was beginning to run dangerously close to becoming a lovesick crooner with songs that always felt at-arms-length.
Despite being the greatest departure from the sound he’s honed since Faces Down, Please manages to come across as the most like himself he’s ever sounded. Up until now, he was merely our acquaintance but now he’s telling us things about himself because we’re finally friends.
Sondre doesn’t come across as bitter in the usual sense you’d expect one to be after a divorce. He even calls himself lucky in Lucky Guy, which starts off with the line “I am such a lucky guy to have meant the world to you.”
The most downer track is the six minutes of At Times We Live Alone but otherwise, Please is filled with upbeat, melodic indie pop that could very well have been about anything if the lyrics weren’t so descriptive.
There’s a grittier texture on the record that makes it punchier than the swoony indie folk of the last two records, 2011’s self-titled album and Heartbeat Radio from 2009. Much of that comes from the swelling yet sparse electronica that is sprinkled throughout. It leads to the surprising realization that Sondre hasn’t embraced synths and keys before, and it’s strange as it does suit his music and songwriting.
Please is a wake-up for Sondre Lerche. Not a return-to-form because he never lost that, but a change in direction that adds something new to his discography. It’s not the best record he’s ever made but it is one that reestablishes how expansive his music can be and that, even after seven records and then some, he can still turn a fresh canvas into something unlike anything he’s made before.
1. Bad Law
4. At Times We Live Alone
7. After The Exorcism
8. At A Loss For Words
9. Lucky Guy
10. Logging Off