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February 13, 2007 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2007-02-13

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8 - Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

It hurts, Sondre. It really hurts.

Daily Arts Writer
Norwegian singer-songwriter Sondre
Lerche is in the midst of an identity cri-
sis. While the lush and inventive pop of
his 2002 debut Faces
Down earned Lerche
a Best New Artist
award at the Norwe- sondre
gian Grammys, his ore
success didn't trans- Le
late into U.S. sales. Phantom Punch
That's not to say Astralwerks
Lerche hasn't gone
without American
praise - both Faces Down and 2004's fol-
low-up Two Way Monologue garnered a
cult following of U.S. fans who swooned
over his delicate tenor and Beatles-esque
melodies. Lerche established himself
as an emerging pop craftsmen of great
On 2006's Duper Sessions, Lerche did
his best Chet Baker impersonation and
recorded an acoustic jazz record, con-
fusing fans and demonstrating artistic
unpredictably. Duper Sessions, with its
swinging, well-crafted tunes, was as
humorous as it was endearing - a perfect
birthday present for Mom.

OnPhantom Punch, however, the laugh-
ter falls flat. Lerche, joined by The Faces
Down, leaves behind the subtlety and
craft of previous records in favor of a bare-
bones, punchy rock sound. Unfortunately,
to the Lerche fan, the results feel less like
a phantom punch and more akin to a slap
in the face.
If Lerche didn't quite live up to Chet
Baker on Duper, he certainly doesn't
live up to Elvis Costello on Phantom. On
the high-strung and frantic rocker "The
Tape," Lerche's vocal delivery is as forced
as it is remarkably foreign to any of his
previous croons. Lerche may be taking
risks, but this doesn't excuse the creepy,
carnival-esque feeling that lingers at the
end of the tune. The song also features the
worst harmonica solo ever recorded.
On the ridiculously titled "Face the
Blood," Lerche and band fail to capture
anything other than a misguided and
agitated romp through shrill, distorted.
guitar chords. The chorus happens to be
as singable as the theme from "Psycho."
As Lerche urges the listener to "face the
blood again, and again, and again, and
again," it's almost as if we're being stabbed
repeatedly. It hurts, Sondre. Please. It
really hurts.
The title track begins with a hack-

Lerche's fans will need
to hold on to their
patience for this one.
neyed, pentatonic guitar riff, ushering
in yet another pop tune so uncatchy it's
actually frightening. While the idea of
psychotic disco in 3/4 time is indeed orig-
inal, it sounds better on paper than on a
record of any kind. In what appears tobea
horrendous Hot Hot Heat impersonation,
Lerche sings "You don't wanna feel the
Phantom Punch / Isn't it already far too
much?" He's telling us what we already
know - no, indeed, we don't wanna feel
it. Moreover, sampling a horse neighing
in the middle of the bridge suggests even
animals would be upset with this song
(and who even knows if any were harmed
during production).
On "Tragic Mirror," Lerche momen-
tarily returns to the refreshing familiarity
of his acoustic guitar. His boyish falsetto,
however, begins to wane a bit, and he
sounds about as bored with the tune as
the listener.

It All" is only tune on the record which
reflects his ability. This is no laughing
Phantom Punch is the result of a song-
writer with a huge amount of talent mak-
ing some very poor musical decisions. If
Lerche and crew can shake what might
be a marketing campaign to attract a
broader audience, and return to the subtle
elegance of his previous efforts, there's
still hope for the singer-songwriter. As
it stands, Phantom Punch is Lerche fans'
worst nightmare.

Those indie kids sure can dress.
But the real tragedy of Phantom Punch
is "Say It All." Interestingly enough, the
song itself isn't to blame. On the contrary,
it's a splendid, ultra-catchy pop gem and
brings Lerche's subtlety back into the
forefront. Joined by the gorgeous harmo-
nies of Inara George, we find Lerche doing
what he does best. Then, when Lerche
croons, "You know the punch line - it's
all in the punch line," emptiness sinks in.
We discover the punch line - Lerche is
completely capable of crafting infectious,
sweeping yet subtle pop songs, and "Say



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100 BEST

The best
10 torture
scenes of the
past 5 years
Daily Arts Editors
Whatever happened to sword-
fights and shootouts?
Welcome to the modern era.
We're sadists - if someone's not
screaming, what's the point? Daily
Arts compiles the 10 best torture
scenes of the past five y ears.
"The Passion of the Christ"
(2004) - Surprise, surprise.
Mel Gibson takes the top spot.
Do you see what Christ endured
for you? Can you hear it? Smell it?
Taste it? Mel Gibson will make
you. His grand opus glorifying
unbridled violence - I mean, Jesus
- was enough to make secular
stomachs everywhere start churn-
ing. Sure, evangelicals might have
been able to find salvation through
guilt, but I'm pretty sure Jesus did
some other things worth mention-
ing besides being beaten with a
whip coated in shards of glass.
"The Last King of Scot-
land" (2006)- Nicholas
Garrigan (James McAvoy) is
already looking for the first plane
out of Africa when dictator Idi
Amin (Forest Whitaker) finally
catches up with him. The only
thing worse than a pair of giant
fishhooks through your pecs is
being held aloft by a pair of giant
fishhooks through your pecs.
"Oldhoy" (2003)- Dae-su
catches up with the man
that kept him imprisoned in
a room for15 years for no reason.
Wanting to know why, he extracts
each of the man's teeth with pliers
until the information alsobegins
gushing out. And I do mean gush-
ing out.
"Man on Fire" (2004)
- Denzel duct tapes some
sleazebag's hands to the
steering wheel of his car. For
every second said sleazebag
doesn't give up information about
where Dakota Fanning is, he loses
whichever finger he likes the
least, and it appears as if he really
doesn't like most of his fingers
all that much. Let's not even go
into which orifice Denzel ends
up sticking one very worrisome
5"Casino Royale" (2006)
- Daniel Craig steps up to
the plate as Bond only to
find out he has to sit naked in a
chair and have his balls wailed
on for an hour. No wonder Pierce
Brosnan quit. The worst part is
that after the grape-mashing
Bond becomes as domesticated as
a housecat, gazing into his lady's
eyes on some sunlit beach. It's as
unnatural as watching Jack Bauer
get a bikini wax.
For the

list, head over
to our blog,
The Filter, at

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