The debut album is so often a starting point for listeners and critics. For north Londoners Sorry, however, it is more likely to be a period of reflection. Their first cohesive release marks the beginning of a second chapter of their career, the first beginning when school friends Asha Lorenz and Louis O’Bryen put their individual ambitions on hold to try making music together. What followed was the usual: a collection of demos thrown together on Bandcamp, a smattering of singles on Spotify, and a decent number of gigs under their belt (though mostly as a support act). Now, they have truly turned the corner with an album to call their own in 925.
The remainder of Sorry consists of bassist Campbell Baum, drummer Lincoln Barrett, and (the most recent addition) Marco Pini on electronics, but it is Lorenz and O’Bryen that spearhead the group. Both contribute vocals and guitar with each song drawn up as a duo, and while the band have found themselves often referred to in conjunction with an emerging class of exciting post-punk bands, it is their fresh approach to songwriting that separates them from the relentless revolutionary rants of IDLES, the unsettling noise of Girl Band, and the light-hearted bravado of touring companions Shame, to name a few.
Sorry’s music is not propped up by one particular ideal. Their songs twist and contort as you listen. Fifth member Marco Pini’s involvement is crucial, as the electronic elements added in the studio have opened up their songs, and, perhaps more importantly, put some distance between Sorry and the punk scene. This is not a rock band. A “guitar band”? Definitely, but there is little of the fervent anger here that many modern “guitar bands” are so eager to present. Instead, the band’s music channels all kinds of emotion, cycling through gentle awkwardness, eye-rolling cynicism, and millennial melancholy. On ‘More’, a noisy and pounding song about drugs and love, the band are at their most rock ‘n’ roll, but the rest of the material doesn’t fit that template. 925 reflects the reserved, yet captivating stage presence which has generated such an interest in the band, but also a desire to withdraw from the cliché of rock superstardom - which many others have been drawn to like moths to flame.
‘Ode to Boy’ has the fabric of an indie love song, but transforms into something like a tribute to Brainfeeder Records. ‘Perfect’ is an all-out indie tune, crashing in with a Courtney Barnett-esque riff and developing into one of the album’s best examples of the two singers’ chemistry, and could the cryptic and brooding ‘Snakes’, which tries to make sense of a volatile relationship, be about their connection with each other? Who knows, but their quirky two-pronged approach to delivering the lyrics brings about a distinctive dualism which prevents the record from becoming tiresome. We definitely hear more from Lorenz, but O’Bryen’s role is too significant to reduce him to a “backing vocalist”, though it may seem he spends less time singing and more time muttering under his breath and finishing his co-star’s sentences.
He does take centre stage for a portion of ‘Right Round The Clock’, a jazz-pop jumble of five or six different ideas with a stomping chorus to boot, all crammed into a four minute track that serves as both the album's opener and a bold first single. If the album is starting to sound like a total mess, that’s because it is a mess by design. It is these parts of 925 which tie the whole thing together, creating order from the chaos. None of their songs have the right to be as infectious and addictive as they are – even the chorus of long-time live favourite ‘Starstruck’ contains a bizarrely catchy revolving guitar line. That tune finds itself on 925 as one of a handful of tunes that Sorry had trialled at support gigs and festivals over the last couple of years, along with personal highlights in the dreamy and upbeat ‘Rosie’ and the tense closer ‘Lies (Refix)’.
Still, much of Sorry’s debut is new material, and even the old songs are not old ideas. They’re recognisable but have matured over time with a band that has put their early rock-oriented sound well behind them. The band have escaped the confines of the stage, and in the studio have embraced a wide range of influences: you can hear twinges of the indie-pop of their contemporaries alongside lyrics lifted from Louis Armstrong and Tears For Fears. The Sorry of days gone by is documented by a formidable back catalogue of songs left un-renovated for 925, but flourish in their own right, together forming an appetising introduction to a debut album which is very much the main course.
925 shares characteristics with albums that are unfocused, haphazard, and restless, but there is more to it than that. It is an invitation into the rewarding and enjoyable world of a frantically creative songwriting duo with an overflow of ideas, backed by a well-tuned band with a well-refined sound. The challenge of establishing some kind of individual musical footprint in an era of countless indie bands of 20-somethings is one which Sorry have not only risen to, but have overcome painlessly. They are now moving along an upward trajectory with real momentum, and have become a band who are rightfully very sure of themselves and what their music can offer.
- 8.0 -
'Snakes', 'Rosie', 'As The Sun Sets'
Anthony Ford is a Maths student, spending every Saturday watching Burnley attempt to avoid relegation. He calms himself down by listening to music, playing guitar, or shouting at people on the TV. Thanks for reading! Slow Motion Panic Masters is a music, arts and culture blog created and edited by Ben Wheadon, a literature student and musician based in London, England.
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