The other day I had a dream about Sondre Lerche.
In this dream, I sat across from him in a burger restaurant. Between bites of cheddar-drenched patties, he waxed poetic on the nature of love. Sliding over a copy of “Avatars of Love,” he said one last thing before the dream faded to black:
“You and me are just avatars of love.”
That morning, I woke up and started writing this article. Munching on cold fries in an attempt to resurrect the profound feeling I had tapped into in that dream, I typed out a page’s worth of themes, musical influences, and intellectual acrobatics. The insightful conclusion that I came to was, in a word, disappointing.
The thing is, you can’t intellectualize Sondre’s “Avatars of Love,” you have to feel it.
So that’s what I did. I stepped out my door, locked in the full album on Spotify, and ran as far as I could.
I felt it all. Completely. Every breathless word and swelling string. Every throwaway line and syncopated rhythm. I traveled into Sondre’s soul and came out the other side.
What I experienced can never be put into words. After all, language can never do art justice. I can only point you at the moon; I can’t describe it for you.
Sondre’s new album is just that — an experience. It is the swell of emotion at the core of experience, mixed in with those feelings that both guide and sabotage us throughout our lives.
Take “The Other Side of Ecstasy”, which chronicles that polarity of romance. The love that once acted as savior, as the emblem of meaning that moves us through the everyday world, can soon change shape, shifting into the devil of sleepless nights and unrequited desires.
This world that Sondre invites us into is primal, yet touched by poetic flourishes and half-rationalized excuses. It is an unabashedly human album that never attempts to obscure the paradoxes that confront us at the heart of existence.
The thesis statement, that we are all just vehicles for something bigger, for the monstrous, ecstatic love our culture so cherishes, isn’t required to be capital T truth. It just has to say something definitive about what love is.
Songs such as “Avatars of Love” and “Will We Ever Comprehend” illustrate that perfectly, guiding us through the ways in which we are part of a larger story. We are, in some manner, avatars of a cultural idea touched on in songs, films, poetry, and so much more.
Bruce Springsteen once said that Van Morrison’s album “Astral Weeks” made him believe in love. In similar fashion, Lerche’s “Avatars of Love” made me see how much what I think “love” is, is what I have integrated from songs written by the innumerable avatars like Morrison before me.
More than anything, Lerche has made me realize that I’m okay with that.
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