sondre lerche Two Way Monologue (EMI) Rating: NNNN
With his second full-length album, Norway's prized teen indie rock prodigy finally lives up to the hype prematurely showered on his Faces Down debut. Two Way Monologue demonstrates the same wide-eyed admiration for fey 60s pop, but instead of sentimentally (read sappy) naive Bacharach pastiche, the tunes sound like the work of a mature, imaginative songwriter with a knack for swooning chamber pop and subtle bossa acccents. It was a smart move to recruit High Llamas Sean O'Hagan and Marcus Holdaway - two guys who know from ornate orch-pop - to lend a hand with string arrangements. Between their lilting violins and the beatnik bongos and country-perfect pedal steel that flesh out other tracks, Lerche gives each song rich character, avoiding the monotony that traps lesser singer/songwriters. Ambitious, perfectly produced and surprisingly understated.