Faces Down is the captivating major label debut from Norway’s Sondre Lerche (pronounced SON-DREY LAIR-KAY). The 19-year old whiz kid’s music exhibits depth and maturity, freely embracing multiple orientations and influences firmly grounded in traditional pop/rock instrumentation. Elements of Brazilian pop, chamber pop, and electronica, as well as influences from David Bowie (“Dead Passengers”) and Burt Bacharach (“Virtue & Wine”) to Rufus Wainwright (“Modern Nature”) inform much of Sondre’s sweet yet vibrant sound. Though largely accessible and plush, Faces Down offers up the occasional surprise, albeit with mixed results (stripped-down and sparse, “Side Two” shows reach but it’s also somewhat dismal). More successful (and fun) is the dominant guitar and aggressive percussion of the thriving jangle-pop tracks “Sleep on Needles” and “All Luck Ran Out.” Incisive lyrics, sweeping sonics and earnest performances invigorate the mellower “Suffused with Love,” “You Know So Well” and the nine-minute opus “Things You Call Fate.” Sondre’s lilting Scandinavian falsetto—sometimes cheery, sometimes poignant—invites the listener to get lost in a world of classical strings, guitars, compelling melodies and smart songwriting. A prevailing passion for truth and dreams gives Sondre’s lyrics a focused relevance uncommon in much of today’s mainstream pop. Full of hope, honesty, humility and lots of irresistible harmonies, Faces Down announces the arrival of a fresh and developing talent.
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