The gifted Norwegian singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche is not yet 30 years old, but he has spent most of the past decade trying to make a big breakthrough as a star in America. He’s tried his classicist version of pop-rock (his major-label debut, Faces Down), jazz-inflected pop (Duper Sessions), elaborate chamber pop (Two Way Monologue, Heartbeat Radio), early Elvis Costello–like guitar pop (Phantom Punch), and even a movie soundtrack (Dan in Real Life). Pretty much everything he has done in all these styles has been excellent. And although he’s won good reviews and a decent following, he’s never really had his face on magazine covers.
It seems that Lerche has lately realized that there is no place for him in the pantheon of pop, circa 2011. His latest release is titled Sondre Lerche, and self-titling a release this far into a career is often a way for an artist to get the public to reconsider him. This time around, Lerche, who has been living in Brooklyn for the past few years, collaborates with musicians associated with Midlake, Regina Spektor, Spoon, and Animal Collective — all acts that have more indie credibility than Lerche.
The results sometimes push Lerche out of his comfort zone: “Domino” is an atmospheric number that erupts into a discordant guitar solo; “Ricochet” is a sparse, folksy song that builds into a symphonic climax; “Go Right Ahead” throws in some glitchy digital editing techniques where you wouldn’t expect them; “Never Mind the Typos” engages in some odd rhythmic tricks in its outro. Mostly, though, Sondre Lerche sounds like classic Lerche: smart, well-constructed songs. So, if the pop world isn’t interested in that, no problem. The indie world will take it.
Nightlands and Kishi Bashi also perform.
SONDRE LERCHE: Belly Up, Thursday, June 30, 8 p.m. 858-481-8140. $15 advance; $17 day of show.