After a long string of records where exploring different genres seemed almost as important as the songs themselves, Sondre Lerche’s 2009 album Heartbeat Radio was the first record in awhile that felt like it was a true musical expression and not some crazy experiment. That trend continues on 2011’s self-titled album. Working with longtime musical partner Kato Ådland, and with production by Nicolas Vernhes, the album isn’t flashy and doesn’t have an angle. It’s just 40 minutes of Lerche’s unadorned vocals, his always witty lyrics, and some great guitar pop. Sometimes channeling his inner Nilsson (as on the opening “Ricochet”), sometimes smoothly rocking in a modern fashion (on the peppy "Go Right Ahead"), the record mostly keeps to a middle ground of calmly, brainy, and deeply felt balladry, though there are moments that feel radio-ready (as on "Private Caller") and even a little bit epic (on the seesawing ballad "Tied Up to the Tide"). Lerche sounds confident and calmly focused throughout, delivering a craftsman-like performance that may lack a bit in thrills, but pays off in emotional impact and tunefulness. It’s a trade worth making when the craftsman is as talented as Lerche is. Having said that, there still are a few sonic tricks and surprises to be found (no spoilers) and the production is far from cookie-cutter standard. The combination of intelligent and punchy songs, the sympathetic production, and Lerche’s winning vocals make this a strong follow-up to Heartbeat Radio and further proof that Lerche doesn’t need to mess around trying different things to keep people interested. He just needs to make records this catchy and powerful, and he’ll always have a happy batch of followers.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra