If there's one thing Paul Anka's dubious Rock Swings experiment has taught us, it's that rock 'n' roll and lounge music make highly uncomfortable bedfellows. So pity baby-faced Norwegian crooner Sondre Lerche, cursed with the voice of a piano-bar Lothario and the pulsing heart of a rocker, who has yet to deliver an album that makes as much sense as Faces Down, his Bacharach-style 02 Astralwerks debut. Phantom Punch is a wobbly ride through tracks that, for the most part, hiss and snarl with the leather-jacket swagger of his garagey backing band while Lerche either nervously essays a pseudo-rock "growl" over top or reverts to his customary loungey warble, both of which sound equally absurd. It's okay when he stops trying so hard and delivers a wistful ballad, like the sweet After All, but those moments are all too infrequent.
Sondre Lerche croons at the Mod Club Monday (April 2).