Friday, March 3, 2017

Listen/Watch: Sondre Lerche - "Serenading In The Trenches"

While Norwegian singer/songwriter Sondre Lerche may have fast-tracked his upcoming eight album Pleasure, he certainly hasn't slowed down any of the press around it. "Serenading In The Trenches" is the fifth single from the album and the second single he's releasing in a week and it's easily a highlight of the album. In his other Pleasure cuts, Lerche's examined his emotional state post-divorce in a myriad of ways: "I'm Always Watching You" dealt with more or less immediate aftershocks and subsequent obsession and checking in to make sure one person wasn't better off than the other. "Soft Feelings" saw Lerche wrestling with his newfound freedom as well as a sort of creeping sense of guilt about possibly being able to move on. "Violent Game" tapped into a well of anger and resentment that Lerche's largely avoided. It was flashy and confrontational; biting but also fluctuated between reality and fantasy much like when you're imagining all the cool comebacks you could've said long after an argument is over. "Serenading In The Trenches" leans pretty heavily into Lerche's subconscious. It's practically all metaphor from it's first lyrics: "Thought I saw you at the finish line/ And you burning a flag and you biding your time.". From its very opening lyric Lerche's on the defensive against his would-be aggressor. Lerche's all about flight and disarmament  and that says a lot not only about his emotional state but his personality in general. Lerche's a lover not fighter and approaches acts of hostile aggression, real or metaphorical, with sort of a resolved calm of a negotiator. Perhaps more so than any other Pleasure track we've heard so far, "Serenading In The Trenches" is the most cerebral despite it's assortment of action words and phrases. It's an olive branch; an attempt to mollify. "Do you want to make love instead?" Lerche croons and it couldn't be more fitting.

The music video directed by Evan Savitt, the same force behind Lerche's trilogy of Please videos, applies that source of sexuality and contention to probably the strongest relationship Lerche has post breakup: his friendship with drummer Dave Heilman. Operating at a similar level of narrative vagueness and dives into the surreal as the videos for "I'm Always Watching You" and "Soft Feelings", "Serenading In The Trenches" is essentially an ode to platonic male friendship with Lerche and Heilman as its subjects. At times playful, at times bristling with an almost guilt inspiring sensuality, Lerche explores masculinity by casting Heilman and himself in a number of roles: friends, brothers, lovers, man, woman. The borders of identity are as blurry as they are rapidly interchangeable. From its opening where clearly female hands are readying Lerche for a shave before a jump cut finds them replaced with Heilman's, Savitt and Lerche base the relationships in dream-like fluidity and adjustable amounts of narrative clarity.

Sondre Lerche's eight studio album Pleasure is out now and is available through most digital retailers with physical editions available through Oslo based distributor Tiger Records.

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