the folk-rock of Phantom Punch with the jazz-pop of Duper Sessions, Sondre
Lerche has produced an album that seems like it ought to be good. Heartbeat Radio does boast some
sparkling moments, and nearly all the intros are grabbers. But it falls well
short of its ambitions.
it’s the Brooklyn-based Swede’s command of English, which is perfect, yet too
artless for a guy trying to craft “sophisticated” orch-pop. The
premise of “Words & Music,” a self-consciously fake showtune, is
that Lerche is “words,” his beloved is “music,” and
“when we get together we’re a song.” (Yeah, a trite one.) “Like
Lazenby” compares its narrator to the actor who didn’t get a second chance
to play James Bond. (Don’t remember On Her Majesty’s Secret Service star George
Lazenby? Or care? Exactly.)
12 tunes are also limited by Lerche’s singing, which is fine but not
distinctive. He’s too bland to impress as an old-time crooner, or to convince
as a impassioned young rocker. When the title track blasts contemporary radio’s
“dimwits,” Lerche doesn’t sound even a little peeved.
most convincing material on this over-orchestrated disc is the simplest: lively
pop-rocker “Easy to Persuade,” which would fit Phantom Punch; understated ballad “Pioneer,” which
suggests a McCartney White Album outtake; and the sorta-soulful “I Cannot Let You Go,” which resembles
a vintage ABC B-side. If that doesn’t sound all that sophisticated, well, Heartbeat Radio fails to show that
sophistication is Lerche’s best option.
Standout Tracks: “Easy to
Persuade,” “Pioneer” MARK JENKINS