Sorry took a different path. In their early days, they didn’t make themselves known by releasing a few standalone singles, nor did they release an EP per se. Instead, they uploaded two house mixtapes, stringing together their demos, sharp choruses, and rough sketch ideas. It is a rock band whose initial work took a form more typical of another genre. More importantly, this is a rock band that reflects a specific generation: less definitive statements and more a portrayal of young, reinvigorated artists discovering it in real time.
Things would get more traditional for Sorry. In fact, they were already signed to Domino when they uploaded the mixtapes, and they quickly started refining those sketches in the studio and releasing them as singles. And now, two and a half years after this first mixtape, they finally unveil a real album. If the mechanism is more conventional, the content remains faithful to the distinctive philosophy of Sorry. Their official debut, 925, bears all the characteristics of hungry and wandering spirits unrelated to pre-established structures.
It took a long time for 925 materialize. Versions of some of his songs date back to mixtapes, meaning that tracks like “Snakes” and “Lies” were released in one form or another almost three years ago. They started its rollout, in a sense, in November 2018, with the release of “Starstruck,” which kicked off a series of 925 singles released over the next year and a half. It’s a fitting arc for an album that is carefully, intricately put together but at the same time constantly changing, as if the songs are fighting to be born. In a way, we’ve been watching Sorry making this album for years. In a way, we have seen them come to light themselves.
In the approach and nature, 925 could only come from children raised on the Internet: endless sentences, half-thoughts, a tendency to take a bit of everything and mix everything up in unexpected and idiosyncratic ways. On some level, Sorry has more in common with Gen Z’s growing pop dispositions; spiritually, they’re closer to Billie Eilish than, say, the new line of hip guitar bands from their own London and nearby Dublin. Corn 925 isn’t the chaotic kind of atheism of something like 100 Gecs. Sorry, they’re still a rock band, it’s just that they make rock music that doesn’t follow contemporary context or logic. It is an artier strain that is broken down and rebuilt over and over again, constantly bristling against the limits of form.
There’s another key aspect of what makes Sorry what they are. The genesis of the group was with Asha Lorenz and Louis O’Bryen, who have since been joined by drummer Lincoln Barrett and bassist Campbell Baum, but remain the main duo at the helm of the group. Lorenz and O’Bryen met when they were kids and are longtime friends who started playing music together as a teenager. They have their own island language, built over the years with lives intertwined and transforming together.
It’s not like the band has two singers who take turns, or an occasional duet. Lorenz takes the lead most of the time, but she and O’Bryen whisper below and talk to each other; they finish their thoughts and cut each other. 925 could be a complete mess, with songs constantly changing in mood and form. Instead, the symbiosis between Lorenz and O’Bryen keeps it all together, resulting in the sound of two restless people moving in their own respective directions but still in some sort of tandem.
925 lasts 43 minutes and 13 tracks, but it often feels like it stretches way beyond. The album fades away as different songs flit between muted passages and new melodies, but it simultaneously feels like a head fog that Lorenz and O’Byren invite you to settle in with them. Initially, it’s almost not recorded as 13 individual tracks, but a continuing outgrowth of that mixtape format, songs not functioning so much as multi-part sagas but moving unpredictably through ideas that might not. not seem to have to go together at first.
The whole aesthetic is resolutely contemporary, born from all these dizzying words and concepts that parade on our screens and in our heads. The result, however, doesn’t seem exactly overworked and overstimulated, but rather world-weary. 925 most often resembles haggard late-night conversations, all languid guitars and watery-eyed sax lyrics and melancholy melodies and precisely ramshackle arrangements that sometimes lean towards voluntary ugliness. But the way the band has woven it all together makes 925 overwhelming beginnings. Even multiple plays, you often don’t know where each song is going to go next.
Take “Right Round The Clock”, the album’s pristine opening. A lame piano and sax intro in the bar stages a story of directionless nights over gurgling electronics, and then every time the chorus comes back around the song locks into that unshakeable, seasick groove, like everything that is tentative or uncomfortable in Sorry’s music has now been cocked. And it’s before you get to the part where they suddenly interpolate the Tears For Fears classic “Mad World” – Lorenz and O’Bryen instead sing “The dreams we’re famous in are the best I’ve ever had” – and O ‘Bryen leads a new left-turn section in a final, even more emphatic reading of the chorus. This is, in some ways, one of the most traditional songs on 925, but at the same time, it packs so much information, so many tangents, in four minutes that there’s no way it’s going to be as contagious and impactful as it is.
It sets the stage perfectly for the rest of 925, the album swaying and then lifting between amorphous clouds of anxiety like “In Unison” or the tense “Rock ‘N’ Roll Star” and more contained moments like the corroded Britpop of “Starstruck” and “Perfect” . From the dizzy, half-drunken faint of the chorus in “Heather” and the sweetheart “Rosie” to the twilight “As The Sun Sets”, they even allow themselves to be really pretty on occasion. Along the way, what might at first glance sound like Sorry throwing a random bunch of shit at the wall consistent thanks to their innate pop sensibility, with specific little moments – the “Ugh!” punctuations from “Starstruck”, the choir’s end-time sigh in “As The Sun Sets”, all sorts of O’Bryen’s percussive background interjections from “In Unison” to “Perfect” – providing anchors in passing through unavoidable hooks in the haze of psychological overload of the album.
If the frayed, curvy instrumentation didn’t make it clear, the end result of Sorry Spirits firing in all directions is usually a depressed, exhausted descent. Lots of lyrics deal with broken relationships, whether it’s chasing bad people (and bad perceptions) in “Right Round The Clock” or the titular animal not scaring Lorenz as much as an old flame in ” Snakes “. One of the most evocative sequences comes from “As The Sun Sets”, where playing an ex prompts Lorenz to imagine “As the sun goes down, I really want to meet him”; when she concludes the song with Louis Armstrong’s refrain “So I think of myself / What a wonderful world / What a hell of a day / What a beautiful girl”, it sounds like a magnificent representation of defeat rather than any slice of sincere hope.
Sorry, we are doing a lot of work on 925, and they don’t always do it in a way that makes the situation better. With all of this conflict and distance between people, songs most often find their characters in apathetic and self-defeating situations. The dead end banter in “Rock ‘N’ Roll Star” and its disgusting, throaty saxophone screams choke like old-fashioned rock music mockery. The pulsating “Plus” relishes the words “plus” and “drugs” over and over again, as if acknowledging that there is a yawning void in the heart of 925 which cannot be filled, no matter how many illicit substances or hits in a night, no matter how many withered sound fragments the group can bind into one. All in all, it’s a portrait of being young and not having a clue of how things are going to stabilize: “When are you going to start doing what you’re supposed to do? Lorenz asks on “In Unison”, O’Bryen chirping “Coming soon!” without conviction in the background.
And yet, it ends up coming together. 925 is a testimony to this. The album doesn’t offer a lot of answers; at the same time the music is full of ideas, it sounds dirty and pale. Sorry corral the feeling of the days when your mind feels most exhausted by the amount of everything going on outside, everything going on in your head, everything going on your phone. Their music sends it back to you somehow in a language that makes sense. Depicting life that moves forward but blurry, and capturing moments, lines, and scenes that stand out in all the swampy mess, Sorry has emerged with one of the most accomplished debuts in recent memory. They had take their time with this: it’s the sound of digging through debris and weird new things you can build out of it that’s worth saving.
925 was released on 3/27 via Domino. Pre-order it here.
Other albums to note this week:
• Pearl Jam is often pretty, slightly adventurous Gigaton.
• Waxahatchee is demanding, but cheerful and ultimately rejuvenating Saint Cloud.
• Nicolás Jaar’s Cenizas, which we will discuss shortly.
• Dua Lipa’s second sparkling effort Nostalgia for the future, is spent next week.
• Demi Waif is distinctively beautiful and emotional The Guardian.
• The post-punk exorcism of Deeper Self Pain.
• Little Dragon is reliable and welcoming New me, even us.
• Margaret Glaspy’s collection of love songs, Devotion.
• New claustrophobically intense FACS album Empty moments.
• Rangey Nap Eyes, worn on the road Snapshot from a beginner.
• The 17th album of The Orb, Abolition of the Royal Familia.
• Sufjan Stevens’ New Age instrumental team with her stepfather (and Carrie & Lowell namesake) Lowell Brams, Aporia.
• Brian Fallon’s latest solo collection, Local honey.
• Release in second year of Cable Ties Far enough.
• Orion Sun’s debut album Save the space for me.
• Jessie Reyez’s official debut album Before love comes to kill us.
• San Fermin’s The Cormorant I & II.
• Vanessa Carlton’s first album in five years, Love is an art.
• 5 seconds of summer Calm.
• PartyNextDoor has just been announced Partymobile.
• The EP just announced by Dirty Projectors, Open windows.