Disco Vietnam is a Twitter wunderkind.
Writing from his New Yorker blog, Sasha Frere Jones recently offered his praise to Norwegian wunderkind Sondre Lerche’s latest album Heartbeat Radio, citing the songwriter’s use of “fancy chords” as what most readily distinguishes him musically from his peers. Forgive me if I find this a bit reductive. While Frere-Jones rightly places Lerche firmly within the tradition of similar songwriters Elvis Costello and Andy Partridge (to say nothing of Glenn Tilbrook or a Paul McCartney), it isn’t so much that Lerche’s chords are “fancy” but rather that they are correct: each chord builds on the previous but only suggests what may follow. More than any other contemporary songwriter Lerche understands, both in performance and on record, how to musically incorporate the element of surprise and it’s in that respect Heartbeat Radio may be his finest work to date.
Lerche takes to the stage of the Troubadour Thursday in early support of Heartbeat Radio, his fifth album and follow-up to 2007’s more propulsive Phantom Punch. Heartbeat Radio is Lerche’s most mature record. It’s also his most musically direct, which has made Lerche’s solo performances this tour all the more enjoyable. Stripped to their essentials – guitar and voice – songs like “I Guess It’s Gonna Rain Today” and “Good Luck” reveal an even more efficient approach to melody than we have previously heard from Lerche. The songs are better for it. Nothing fancy about that.