Over his last couple of albums, Sondre Lerche consolidated a career's worth of jumping from style to style and became a focused, sophisticated singer/songwriter who seemed likely to release easy-to-swallow, hard-to-remember albums until he packed it in. Not that that would be a terrible thing; many people have done much worse. Luckily for his fans, but not so lucky for him, his divorce from his wife of eight years proved to be the kick of inspiration that boosts his 2014 album Please beyond being just another perfectly fine album and into something raw, real, and memorable. Lerche channels his pain into some of his most direct and powerful lyrics yet, pushes his vocals to the point where they sometimes break, and infuses the music with a twisted energy on the uptempo tracks. This emotional investment brings the album to life; the anger and frustration literally jump out of the speakers on songs like "Legends," with its chorus of "Dumb ass you/and dumb ass me" and the ragingly emotional "After the Exorcism," and the ballads that provide respite from the moments of jagged intensity have a tense restraint and morose outlook that convey a palpable sadness and regret. Just check "Lucky Guy" if you want to hear about as real a song as anyone's written about divorce (or any break-up) and the conflicting feelings and thoughts that follow confusingly in its wake. Lerche's typically minute attention to detail in the production helps too, as he drops in jarring samples, adds horns and percussion at just the right times, plays around with guitar tones, and generally sounds like he's drowning himself in sound throughout. One criticism of his past work is that it seemed to come too easy and sounded a little facile at times. That's certainly not the case on Please. Lerche sounds totally invested in every song, letting his emotions bubble like hot lava right on the surface, and sounding for the first time like he's got some real problems and issues to deal with. That he can combine his sadness and anger with some of the most interesting melodies and arrangements of his career makes it truly impressive. It's hardly fair to wish hard times on songwriters just so their work might sound more real and meaningful, but if they have to suffer, one can at least hope that they are able to turn it into the kind of revelatory art that Lerche has on Please.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra