Sondre Lerche — Pleasure (Review)

Sondre Lerche’s 10th studio record, Pleasure, released March 2017.

Sondre Lerche is no stranger to changing up his style and experimenting with a new sound. Be it jazz with 2006’s Duper Sessions, or rock with 2007’s Phantom Punch, he is always testing out a new venture. Sondre got his start on a high in his home country of Norway. After his debut album in 2001, Faces Down, he was named Best New Artist at the Norwegian Grammys. Lerche has seen critical acclaim through out his career with each album release. I jumped into Lerche’s music from a random record store day find. I found the vinyl release of Solo Pleasure and was drawn to it. I got it and took it home to give it a listen. I have to say, on first listen I was bit taken aback by some of the stripped down tracks here. I gave a few songs a short listen, before diving into some of his past releases to get a full idea of his sound. Lerche’s prior works definitely show is affinity for a more complex musical arrangement. Not one to have a song with just very simple chord structure, each song always seems to be fresh and unique. Pleasure was released in 2017 and is new territory for Lerche. Its sound is steeped in 80s new wave and 90s dance sounds. Let’s see what Pleasure has in store of us.

The second single off of Pleasure, “Soft Feelings”, released January 2017.

The album opens up with “Soft Feelings”. This a dark moody electronic song that feels very reminiscent to a Depeche Mode or Soft Cell track. The verses have this very cold electronic monotone keyboard that breaks into a dance beat. This juxtaposed again the lyrics about the emptiness Lerche feels after the lost love from his partner gives a stark bleakness to his mental state. The chorus blossoms into these upbeat almost house-like piano parts and spacey keyboard. Lerche is obsessed about whether his ex is still thinking of him, calling for him, in need of him. Even the more upbeat nature of the choruses feel slightly manic and off kilter against his lyrical pining and dark keyboard bassline. The video to the song further dives into this lost character, seeing Sondre in various states of brokenness and undress further showing off the nakedness and hopelessness he feels over this lost love.

The music video to the first single, “Soft Feelings”, off of Pleasure directed by ohannes Greve Muskat.
The first single off of Pleasure, “I’m Always Watching You”, released October 2016.

“I’m Always Watching You” is peppy 80s inspired song, with thick bright synths that could fit into a Whitney Houston song. The blend of heavy synths, funky guitar, and 80s dance pop inspired beats are expertly crafted in way that feels modern. This song also has a slightly off feel to it, like this euphoric state is slightly deranged. This is notable in the lyrics to the song, seeing Lerche obsessively watching over a woman that he wants to be with. Lines like “Cellphones a weapon of surveillance” and “Follow you down digital rabbit holes/ Who you like, where you’ve been” really give off an almost insane preoccupation over the woman he wants to be with. The video for the song continues this theme, seeing Sondre watching this woman from across the street through his window and continuously checking his phone. These contrasting themes between the song and the lyrics really make for a very interesting listen. I have to say, this is one of my favorites off the record.

The music video to “I’m Always Watching You” off of Pleasure directed by Johannes Greve Muskat.
The 3rd single off of Pleasure, “Serenading in the Trenches”, released March 2017.

“Serenading in the Trenches” sees some of Lerche’s trademark jazzy guitar chords layered over these crunchy explosive beats. The song has a more indie rock sound compared to the other more 80s new wave inspired tracks. We see Lerche talking about blending the notions of love and angst together. The lovers in the song are somewhere between love and hate for each other. The music video for the song is playful homoerotic display between Sondre and his drummer David Heilman. Sondre has said he wanted to show a more loving display of two men in a friendship. I can also see a playful display of closeness and potential anger here with its shaving scene, slaps, and wrestling.

The music video to “Serenading in the Trenches” off of Pleasure directed by Evan Savitt.

“I Know Something That’s Gonna Break Your Heart” starts off with a reverberating synth and thunderous drum beat that breaks into indie pop inspired synths and bassline. There is tension here between the two lovers in this song. Tonight they are in bliss, but tomorrow they news they share will destroy their relationship, “I hate to tell you but I’m gonna fail you/ Tonight can never let us down/ Tomorrow will break your hear…”. Sondre does a great job of mixing this upbeat indie pop music with these lyrics of a relationship’s soon to be demise.

“Siamese Twin” has a heavy 80s inspired pop sound. It’s sexy and slow with a modern indie rock spin. The song glitters in its choruses. Lerche is here to say that he and the woman he is lusting after are so much alike in all they do that could be connected at the hip. He wants more than anything to let her know and meet up. The video sees Sondre playing with gender. You can see him and another genderfluid character (I don’t want to miss gender the person in the video, so if anyone knows their preferred pronouns do let me know). It’s a sweet play between the two throughout the video.

The music video to “Siamese Twin” off of Pleasure directed by Thale Fastvold & Marius Hauge.

“Bleeding Out into the Blue” is heavier synth-pop tune. The song has these almost suffocating synths and drum beats throughout the song. These oppressive pop sounds mix perfectly with Lerche’s lyrical landscape. This is a relationship at its end. There is no love left between the two here. Lerche maybe bruised and broken, but happy to be out of this toxic relationship. The lyrics definitely show the distain between the two, “In another life I’d beat you to the punch/ To the ministry of scoundrels you’re just another number crunch…”. This another highlight on the album for me.

“Reminisce” is an almost manic 80s inspired rocker. There is a sense of euphoria to the song that revolves around this woman that Lerche longing for. The music is electric, much like that feeling you get when you fall for someone and you want nothing but for them to feel the same. It’s a cool sexy track definitely worthy of listen and a sway.

“Hello Stranger” is a blend of indie rock and 90s house inspired keys and beats. Again, the blend feels almost demented as Lerche struggles between his yearn to make love to woman and get to know her. The house keys and beat only apply pressure to this mental struggle between a one night stand and burgeoning relationship. You can almost read the writing on the wall in this song.

“Violent Game” is the longest track on the album, running at nearly 8 minutes. It’s a heavier indie rock inspired song. Lerche’s vocals become almost raspy cries at points in the song. Lerche is electric over his torturous relationship between this woman and himself. He wants to let out all his frustrations at her, but knows this is the wrong way about it. “Done wearing out my head, I wanna wear you out/ Done breaking like a shell, I’m gonna break you in/
And I’ll never ask again, this is a violent game/ I’ll never ask again”, he’s torn between wanting to give into his frustrations and letting it go. The chaotic guitar and drums only further add to the tension this song brings.

The album ends with the sexy and smooth “Baby Come to Me”. It’s a slow burner with an indie rock twist. Here, Lerche paints all the trials that you have been put through will lead you to the place you have been working towards. The verses state the tribulations this character has been through, which erupts into this heavenly blend of harps and piano with Lerche’s hopefully words, “Baby come to me/ My blue suede boots may stumble on the ridge/ Baby come to me/ Your poncho soaks up all the water under the bridge”. It’s a lovely way to close out the album.

A stripped down version of Pleasure, Solo Pleasure, released February 2018.

Sondre would release his stripped down version of the album, Solo Pleasure, February 2018. Following this, he released his next project, Patience, June 2020. Pleasure is a unique listen among Lerche’s catalog. It is a fresh take on indie rock and 80s synth pop and new wave. The album also explores Lerche’s more lustful and sensual side. It’s quite an enjoyable listen. My top picks off the record:

  • “I’m Always Watching You”
  • “Serenading in the Trenches”
  • “I Know Something That Gonna Break Your Heart”
  • “Bleeding Out Into the Blue”

My overall rating: 7 out of 10 Pleasurable Experiences.



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Z-sides: Music Reviews

Z-sides: Music Reviews


Welcome to my personal blog. This is a place where I discuss any of my musical finds or faves. Drop in and have a listen.