Sondre Lerche

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Though he was born in the 1980s, Norwegian singer/songwriter Sondre Lerche seems to want nothing to do with the electronica and pop-punk sounds that fascinate most of his contemporaries; his songs -- with their rich and folky chord progressions, cheesy synth tones, quietly recorded drums, and swooning strings -- sound for all the world like products of the 1960s. Which is by no means a bad thing, especially when he's channeling the Beatles ("You Know So Well") or revisiting Tin Pan Alley ("Modern Nature," in duet with the winning Lillian Samdal) or getting all sentimental and bossa nova ("Virtue and Wine"). The song titles, you will have noticed, do not necessarily bode well for the lyrics; Lerche is not a native English speaker, and his sense of idiom isn't as developed as it probably should be if he's going to write songs in that language (sample couplet: "Once I believed we could approach this/Now I have faith placed in the things you call fate"). But the lyrics are not always embarrassing, and the melodies and arrangements are consistently attractive and involving enough to make up for it when they are.

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