Sondre Lerche – I have no idea how to pronounce this guy’s name, but it will come to me eventually because I plan on listening to him for a very long time. A Norwegian musician with an effortless knack for writing strong, symphonic pop songs, Lerche comes across as some kind of all-knowing Anglo-pop savant on Heartbeat Radio. Lush and varied at every turn, the album hangs Lerche’s delicate, expressive vocals on every available musical surface, letting a breeze of strings, wind instruments, synthesizers, banjos, and effects whistle through their comforting fabric. Songs like “Easy to Persuade” and the title track cruise along an undeniably 80’s-influenced conceptual arc, where standard rock band instrumentation shares the spotlight with electronic elements and vocal effects. Frequent moments of well-timed cheekiness don’t let the listener forget the “me” decade’s influence on Lerche, and AM radio’s heyday will spring to mind more than a few times when spinning this album due to the music’s optimistic tone and bright, swirling melodies. Even when the album gets a little sappy, as it does on the syrupy “Words and Music,” the music is just so damn endearing and presented with such rosy-cheeked enthusiasm that it’s hard to find fault. Plus, there are plenty of orchestral, technicolor pop gems and surprising moments of compositional brilliance that make the whole experience a pure joy despite the few slight missteps.
8.5 out of 10.