Are you listening to this in a boarded-up room, the zombies moaning outside your bedsit or the equivalent of the Winchester pub from Shaun of the Dead? Waiting for all this to blow over. Except it hasn’t and the dystopian future is here.
Sorry weren’t to know that the world was going to go to shit in a Louis Vuitton handbag. At the point of reading this you might be two weeks into sitting in your own filth, a bit of a dry cough still persisting, but an addiction to Chicken and Mushroom Pot Noodle (other dehydrated noodle brands are available) simmering away.
Well worry not because the North London gadabouts have created the perfect soundtrack to the lockdown by creating a collage of alternative, grunge, pop, ballroom, indie, country croon and lip curling cynicism, innocent love songs and dry humorous stories.
The seedy underbelly of city life, the characters and cartoonish caricatures that inhabit the pubs, clubs, side streets and minds. Asha and Louis paint a garish, Kubrick storyboard, a Royston Vasey in North London. The washed-up rock n roll star, the wannabee film star girl at the bar, the lovesick admirer from afar, Rosie, Heather, the obsessed fan, stalker even.
Nine two five
Nine to five
An obvious play on words, or rather numbers, which could be referring to the working day, the grind, the routine. Or is it the other end of the clock. From 9pm, the night, the girls, boys, trans, non-binary, the freaks and weirdos, the life, the love, the midnight hour, the wee small hours, the witching hour; people turn, mutate, become another person, another being, a beast. Till the hours before dawn. Alcohol, drugs, sex, more, more, more.
Without calling it such, this is virtually a concept album. Or at least a stage play score for a bastard Frankenstein’s monster adaptation of Guys and Dolls. Or something equally mutated.
‘Right Round the Clock’ is a sleazy jazz club of an intro, sax and sex, a tale of unrequited love narrated by Asha and Louis who maybe know better than the obsessed. She is an attention seeker, a walking ego playing out her own life as a film.
‘Starstruck’ gives the impression that they are anything but in awe of someone, the disgust in the delivery “and you did it again/ Starstruck/urgh”.
‘As the Sun Sets’ is beautifully melancholic but optimistic. Asha’s brittle delivery adds waves of wistful but cracked vocals, either emotional or fatigue. It does the special trick of being nostalgic and yet hopeful.
‘Rock’n’Roll Star’ is debauched and a little un-hinged. Elvis Presley vocal inflection and tip-toeing piano lead to a shuffling bridge before it collapses into a roaring confession “You’re pure silver/ nine five two/ honey, I’d do anything for you/ my pure love”.
‘Heather‘ is so sweet and heartfelt it could be powderpuff if it weren’t for the ingredient that makes Sorry so compelling, that they have the ability to be story tellers. In the mould of Jarvis, Alex Turner, with the kitchen sink of Billy Bragg and Squeeze. You want to know where this is going to go next.
Downwards and depraved.
‘More’ fairly simply extolls societies greed for drink, drugs and sex over another filthy dirty guitar ride. What else is there?
‘Lies’ has been “refixed”, a re-recording that plays down the industrial grunge element to the original and adds an electronic, sample production with some of the rough edges removed. Is it necessary to re-jig a previous single? Perhaps not. Would the original have rounded this LP off perfectly? Yes. Let’s not quibble though.
What Sorry do best is mould so many disparate influences and genres into a melting pot of no discernible abode. No-name is more appropriate for what Sorry play. At any moment they are ending a song with a hip-hop beat breakdown and starting another with an impression of “The King”.
The major difference between them and others who claim eclectic styles is that they have read the book on writing a melody from cover to cover before ripping it up and setting fire to it and using it to light their spliff.
This is worth the wait, and if anything, the bizarre times we are currently enduring fits nicely. There is something clandestine about their subject matter, that even going to the pub is now a taboo. Stick this on and hide behind the garages, by the river with a pack of smokes and a can of Special Brew and watch the night come out to play. On your own though.
Don’t apologise, the only thing you will have done wrong is not listen to this record.
925 is released on 27th March through Domino.