Whenever the phrase ‘the most exciting new guitar band’ comes up in conversation, it’s not unnatural to have the kneejerk reaction of not believing a single word of it. Looking past the fact that the syntax of the phrase immediately conjures up images of stuffy industry ‘tastemakers’ whose opinion on the matter most likely stems from their own pretentiousness, the fact of the matter is that so many recipients of such a description simply haven’t been all that interesting. Perhaps they won’t be the most faceless of indie bands, but it’ll usually be the sort of nonplussed fodder that’ll take up column inches and blog posts for a few months before being knocked out of place by the next one to fill the exact same role. Right now, it feels like Sorry are currently being primed to fit into that slot, with all the hallmarks of an act to get those industry tongues a-wagging – they’ve become known for an apparant disregard of genre norms while still being able to slot into the modern indie scene, and with early releases (labelled as ‘mixtapes’ for a reason that is yet to be really explained) picking up the buzz one would expect from the usual kind of outlets, debut album 925 couldn’t come at a more opportune time to ride the ephemeral waves of hype ready to be thrown onto them. Yes, it all sounds horribly cynical, but when these cycles repeat as often as they do, patterns become easier to recognise, and given that the place where Sorry currently find themselves in typically isn’t inhabited for long, being primed for a fall feels like a necessary precaution to take.
To eliminate the first major worry though, 925 definitely isn’t a bad album; in fact, Sorry do a fair bit here to ensure that a lot of the intrigue and distinction that’s been emphasised about them is justified. It’s just a shame that they don’t stick the landing more effectively, ending up with a weird hotchpotch of an album that seems to eschew the idea of a throughline altogether to heighten its own sense of lumbering disjointedness. And yet, there’s certainly quality that emerges from the loosened execution, and when that alone seems to defy a significant number of odds, it’s almost worth giving 925 a spin on that basis alone. It’s just a shame that a lot of Sorry’s ideas feel unfortunately underdeveloped, and for an act that appears to be pushing everything they’ve got as far forward as possible, it’s pretty much impossible to ignore.
And you really do get the impression that that’s Sorry’s intention. This is an album seemingly built from the ground up to evoke the ramshackle, deliberately imperfect indie-rock and post-punk that’s pretty standard in the underground, the difference being that Sorry have a lot more in the way of breadth under their belts. That’s definitely key to the vocals, in which Asha Lorenz’s breathy, almost too-cool-to-care affectations and Louis O’Bryen’s Damon Albarn impressions intertwine in some enjoyably novel ways, something which establishes a lack of fixation within Sorry’s sound. This is the sort of thing that slides between tones and moods without much warning, and as could probably be expected, it’s a mixed bag when such a bright spotlight on the lack of firm direction is placed down. They’re capable of fantastically channelling the seedier, rock ‘n’ roll side of the repertoire with the squawking, hazed-out stumble of Right Round The Clock and the punchy Starstruck that nabs a lot of the vibe from Garbage’s Stupid Girl. Otherwise, Sorry can work in pieces, but it’s hard to escape the thought that greater focus would aid this album a lot more. For one, a surprising amount of it has difficulty sticking, such is the case with more languid and subdued indie-rock production on Snakes and More, and it winds up as 925 becoming an album coasting on vibe above much else. That in itself isn’t a bad thing, but between some okay compositions that aren’t too pervasive beyond that and a limited number of propulsive soundscapes built like with Wolf, it becomes even more obvious that consistency really isn’t one of Sorry’s stronger suits.
It’s more or less the exact same problem with the writing as well, with good moments peppered among an album that, below the surface, clearly isn’t as different or forward-thinking as it wants to believe it is. The sneer that’s inherent in pictures of the underbelly of fame and those around it is good on Right Around The Clock and Rock ‘n’ Roll Star, as is some of the underlying instability on Rosie, but it becomes difficult to isolate much of note otherwise, even if it’s not particularly awful. A song like Ode To Boy isn’t necessarily bad as an approximation of a love song, but if the aim was to be a bit more off-centre and tongue-in-cheek with it, it doesn’t really go far enough and just feels kind of middling as a result. It’s an odd quandary to fall into when Sorry do have a creativity behind them where the capability to embrace their weirdness is there, but the end results don’t live up to the promise and what’s left is an album that can be unfortunately hollow at times.
But even among all of that, there’s a magnetic quality to 925 that, even with its shortcomings, means it can be difficult to look away, if only in the hope that suddenly it’ll all click and Sorry will reveal themselves as the transcendent saviours of indie-rock the buzz would suggest they are. Sadly it doesn’t, but if nothing else, there is a level of intrigue that’s being aimed for that’s more that can be said for most in their position, even if it’s not always hit. It’s the sort of album that’s crying out for more time to be put into it to refine and strengthen the ideas that are here; there’s no doubt that Sorry could be something excellent with the ideas they have, but that’ll only come when their experimentation and toying with sounds yields something that’s more interesting overall and has greater staying power. Right now, the flashes of that are there, but it would be nice to see Sorry expand on what those flashes bring; maybe then a lot more of the hype will be justified.
For fans of: Wolf Alice, Shame, Iceage
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘925’ by Sorry is released on 27th March on Domino Records.