Artist of the Day: Sondre Lerche

Music Features Sondre Lerche
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Hometown: Bergen, Norway
Album: Sondre Lerche
For fans of: Kings of Convenience, Ambulance LTD, Andrew Bird

Way back in 2004, when Sondre Lerche was still an indie wunderkind, he told Paste, “Naturally your next move [after releasing a new record] is going to be some sort of reply to what you’ve done before, some kind of contrast.” Seven years later, Lerche has matured from child prodigy to respected singer-songwriter, but this logic still holds true, at least when it comes to his upcoming self-titled LP.

Sondre Lerche, out June 7 on Mona Records, is a far cry from the swooping strings and ornate arrangements of 2010’s Heartbeat Radio. “It was important to me to let these songs be stripped down and run the show themselves, not dress them up or be too stylized,” Lerche says.

In this less-is-more spirit, Lerche stayed in his adopted home of New York City rather than travel back to Norway, as he often has in the past, to record this LP of understated pop songs. Holed up for three weeks at Brooklyn’s Rare Book Room Records with co-producer Nicholas Vernhes and a roster of talented musicians including Midlake drummer McKenzie Smith, Lerche created an intimate collection of songs with his voice and lyrics at the center.

“I wanted to really zone in on the lyrics because I felt that these songs were in a way much more concerned with seeing things as they are and trying to come face to face with reality, whereas a lot of the songs and albums I have done in the past have been real concerned with a sense of escape or fantasy,” Lerche says. The approach works well with the material, in which he addresses such real-world matters as the critical response to his work (“Never Mind the Typos”) and his aversion to settling into typical adult routines (“Living Dangerously”).

The lyrics-driven momentum of the record, the contrast to his most recent release, the de-emphasis on elaborate production—these are things Lerche touts as highlights of the album. But perhaps the most valuable thing, ultimately, was an element of surprise. “When I hear it now, it went so fast and was so intuitive, I don’t really know exactly why it ended up like this,” Lerche says. “It’s sort of a mystery to me, which I find really cool. I have been doing this for a living and it’s still a mystery.”