Monday, October 10, 2016

Listen/Watch: Sondre Lerche - "I'm Always Watching You"

After the released of his latest full length album Please, Norwegian singer/songwriter Sondre Lerche set out to work on its follow up. It was certainly a hard record to top: a break up record that never quite lets itself behave like the typical break up record. Several songs were omitted like "Despite The Night" which sort of focus on a different narrative than one Lerche was striving for and that along with a newfound love of dance music found many of the album's singles given the remix treatment as well "Despite The Night" being bundled together with several different remixes of the song which was a sort of remix of itself. But the party was soon over and Lerche isolated himself to get back to work on a new set of tunes. "I'm Always Watching You" is our first taste of what the new batch will possibly sound like and it's an interesting step for Lerche.

Lerche's always been able to spin deeply relateable tales of love even at its most intense (see Duper Sessions for Lerche's most deeply felt love songs) but Please's "Bad Law" was the first time Lerche really highlighted the dark side of that intensity. The fact that it was Lerche as his danciest was a surefire distraction. "I'm Always Watching You" continues more in that vein. Lerche does his best 80's send up as he put his charming spin on cyber-stalking. We've all done it. Whether its checking in to see how an ex is doing because you're curious or vindictive or still very much in love with them or the harmless bit of research you do when you're interested in someone new. Lerche's with you and he's made an anthem for it. And yet even to him, the darkness inherent in that behavior is apparent and he just goes for it.

The video directed by Johannes Greve Muskat plays like a thriller with hints and nudges towards it's twist without ever really beating you over the head with its reveal. In fact, its original shot of Lerche shot in soft light with kind eyes only for the color to drain and his gaze intensifies and he focuses in on the object of his obsession does a hell of a lot of storytelling in its simple change of tone. The rest of the video essentially chases that narrative lead - the sequence broken up with flashes of its conclusion occurring while you watch Lerche pine and his intended get increasingly bolder. It follows the format of the song's own twist as the chorus switches from "I'm always watching" to "I know you're watching". Lerche doesn't let himself off easy noting the questionable healthiness of his digital voyeurism.

The most exciting thing about "I'm Always Watching You" is not only does it ground itself in real experience but much like "Bad Law" it opens up Lerche's narrative capabilities and his storytelling options. Lerche's the narrator but these tales take up a life of their own where you can distance Lerche himself as the protagonist. After releasing probably one of the most personal records of his career, it's certainly a prospect that bound to be creatively reinvigorating. Sondre Lerche refused to wallow on Please and now, he's perfectly content with exploring material that might be at odds with his nice guy image. I can't wait to see where that revelation leads. Until then "I'm Always Watching You":

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