Oh… this isn’t what I was expecting, far from it. Sorority Noise are not a band to rest on their laurels, in fact, I don’t believe they have any laurels, or if they do then they keep them well hidden from prying eyes. However, I digress. The Connecticut four-piece have been labelled as everything from emo to power pop to pop punk to ragamuffin skank, although I may have just made the last one up. In reality, they have always come across as erudite yet profoundly witty and in frontman Cameron Boucher they have the perfect fulcrum through which tales of youth, love, angst and the general disintegration of the Western world can be interwoven. In short, I’ve always had a soft spot for ‘The Noise’; they make me smile like a Cheshire cat on helium.
So having taken delivery of the band’s third album release, the Blankety Blank inspired You’re Not As ____ As You Think I foolishly assumed I was in for more of the same; the usual giddy mixture of Weezer fused with They Might Be Giants. I was wrong; very wrong. Currently, I am fascinated by the onrushing wave of creativity emanating from the US as the Trump era gathers momentum and anyone with an articulate (and sympathetic) bone in their body starts to diarise the daily struggle for survival within the new world order. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t anticipating as much from Sorority Noise but what we get instead is ten tracks of beautifully honest, raw laments on the aftermath of death.
If you find Nick Cave’s Skeleton Tree hard to wade through or Sufjan Stevens‘ Carrie & Lowell too much of a tear-jerker then you may already have decided that a further examination of indescribable loss is not for the likes of you. Well, please think again because I doubt you will hear a more brutally honest yet cathartic album this year. Somehow, Boucher has crafted – no that’s too glib a word – forged a welter of personal trauma into 10 frank bite size chunks with almost alarming alacrity. I know I’m supposed to give you a blow by blow, track by track account but you know what… Sod it. Just listen to the album opener ‘No Halo’ with it’s ‘Teenage Riot’ intro and let the pain envelop you as Boucher allows his pain to come gushing out like a Gulfoss waterfall. If the naked truth is all too much for you then turn away now; but I promise you that after several listens you’ll thank me, well Boucher really, for You’re Not As ____ As You Think eventually unfolds into a life-affirming comment on our place in the universe.
As a stand-alone piece of musical art, the album follows the same journey as previous Sorority Noise releases, all jangly guitars mixed with fast paced shouty choruses and the occasional pause for breath. But what sits beneath is dark, complex and mesmerically beautiful; it’s almost too blissfully unique. As someone who has lost too many people over the previous 12 months, I may be staring too hard into my abyss and seeing themes which don’t really exist. I don’t care, this album has emitted a profound effect on me and if you aren’t scared about peering into your own soul then Sorority Noise may well have saved you a fortune in anti-depressant prescriptions.
You’re Not As ____ As You Think is released on March 17th on Big Scary Monsters