Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: album reviews, andrew bird, Heartbeat Radio, Jason Mraz, Sondre Lerche
PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD Sondre Lerche’s “Heartbeat Radio” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts
Save your skepticism about Sondre Lerche‘s newest release, Heartbeat Radio. As much as the Norwegian crooner is embraced by the contemporary scene, courtesy of his lengthy contributions to the Dan in Real Life soundtrack, his new album is a marked departure from those toothless tunes. No, Lerche has not abandoned his jazz influences. Rather, he’s found the perfect marriage between the jazz and pop-rock that separately have made him so appealing, fusing it all into a collection that would make Andrew Bird proud.
To add to his repertoire of pop hooks and upbeat sentimentalism, Lerche, as mentioned, employs a new tactic. Rock themes now exist within the walls of his vast array of ensemble instruments, while his more personal themes have taken a seat within the space formerly reserved for his catchiest tunes. The brands he’s established, now fully intertwined, harness a tongue-in-cheek youthfulness he rarely lets on to. Lerche even tries his hand at some Jason Mraz-esque faux hip-hop on “If Only,” with surprisingly positive results.
As much as Lerche has seemingly entered a new phase in his career, finally finding the right balance between his two personas, it’s also too obvious that his appeal will always be to the mainstream. Even with edgier guitar riffs mixed in amongst the string quartets meandering in the background, he is still the same man pledging love and “things are gonna get better” enthusiasm. It’s not a bad thing by any measure. However, it will always exist as the mental roadblock for those who don’t prefer hopelessly romantic musical stylings.
For the Sondre Lerche fans out there, Heartbeat Radio can be a dream come true. Anyone who has appreciated his Faces Down work, or his more rock-oriented compositions will find the album littered with favorites. As for the uninitiated, your enjoyment is largely guided by your pre-existing tastes. If you have any appreciation for string ensemble-infused rock, then by all means, this one is probably for you.
— John Cassillo