Two Way Monologue (2004) – Sondre Lerche

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Seemingly, Lerche didn’t have much to prove beyond his indie-pop debut. Mostly a secret joy (at least outside of his native Scandinavia), Faces Down (2001) introduced those who were listening to a confidant songwriter and vocalist who cut a subtle edge. Then came Two Way Monologue (2004).

More idiosyncratic and actually the most he would ever get (so far at least), ‘Monologue boasts an even more assured as well as playful Lerche. He balances strong melodies and performances, never breaking a sweat. The title track is a case in point; tempo changes galore, mood shifts and a disarmingly relaxed voice. Laura Nyro’s Eli & the Thirteenth Confession (1968), perhaps comes to mind when taking stock of Lerche’s awesome ability to mess around structurally, but with humility and finesse.

Whilst the title track is of epic standing, ‘Monologue is a rare article which can’t help but beam brightly throughout; be it the indie-funk of “On the Tower”, the romantic lounge bar styling of “It’s Too Late”, or the elegiac piano ballad “It’s Over”. The minute intro of strings and brass (“Love You”) even manages to be affecting as opposed to throw away. “Wet Ground” is especially interesting as a Bing Crosby nod that delicately expands into something even more joyous than Christmas.

‘Monologue overall seems to be selling an early twenties wisdom with its reflective lyrics and convincing performances. Lerche’s so adept at everything going on here you don’t doubt that he indeed is a young sage. Just take the album’s first ‘proper’ song “Track You Down”, a mournful climactic in which Lerche imparts intellect and feeling of equal measure. Lerche is always a charm, but Two Way Monologue is endlessly so.

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