Sondre Lerche 

Phantom Punch (Astralwerks)

Although blessed with a poetic command of the English language that could make Cole Porter sweat, 24-year-old Sondre Lerche has yet to crack America's VIP list, despite releasing three albums of sparkling, romantic pop to much hullabaloo in his homeland of Norway. (Chalk it up to bad luck — or Uncle Sam's embargo on A-Ha hits). However, Phantom Punch could be the jab that puts this pensive pugilist in classier company. Mixing the street smarts of a fresh-faced Elvis Costello with the manic energy of recent Strokes efforts, Punch is Lerche's most overdriven and allegro effort to date. Remaining intact are his offbeat chord choices, brainy turns of phrase and colorfast arrangements — charms that in a perfect world would portend a lengthy affair in the arms of Nordics and Yankees alike.

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