Did you ever have that friend that you have known since you were both young? Like you both went through primary school and high school together and you both said you would just be friends forever somehow?
But life being the way it is, you both end up losing touch with each other, be it moving away, studying at different university campuses or one of the multitude of reasons that people lose touch with each other. But you have your friend in your mind often and you tell yourself ‘oh I should give them a call and see how they are going’ but you never do. Slowly but surely you think of them less, you talk to them less, you see them less until you rarely thing of them. If you’re lucky, all it takes is a phone call before that old feeling of friendship comes back, but life being the way it is, sometimes it doesn’t work out like that. Unfortunately, people die, people move on, people take their own lives, people make new friends, people forget and you never realise what you had until it is gone.
Sorority Noise’s latest album You’re Not As ____ As You Think is that feeling of not realising what you had until it’s gone and could be one of the best albums of 2017 already.
Consisting of all three members of screamo band Old Grey and the bassist from Prawn, Sorority Noise was never meant to be a serious band. By vocalists Cameron Boucher own admission, Sorority Noise was originally the band where they could play simple songs about college, relationships and wearing black. However, after gaining a large fanbase and having to endure a series of tragic circumstances, the band had the desire to try to be a platform for change, with the darkness but lyrical intimacy of the bands material increasing.
While a pop punk band with relatable depressing lyrics may not sound like the most original idea these days, Sorority Noise differ by facing topics like addiction, death, religion and suicide head on in a way that could make many people uncomfortable.
Opening with the track No Halo Sorority Noise slowly introduce you to their sound, sounding like a mixture of Modern Baseball and The Hotelier before playing a chorus with lyrics that hit like a ton of bricks:
“So I didn’t show up to your funeral
But I showed up to your house
And I didn’t move a muscle
I was quiet as a mouse
And I swore I saw you in there
But I was looking at myself.”
In an interview with Stereogum, vocalist and lyricist Cameron Boucher reveals that during the recording of this album, he heard about the deaths of several friends and acquaintances he knew and about the suicide of one of his childhood best friends, Sean, which is a major discussion point referenced throughout the whole album, with Cameron struggling to express how to feel now that Sean and the others are gone.
The lyrics mentioned before are about when Cameron had gone to Sean’s house when he had got back from tour to visit him, however he had forgotten that Sean was gone until he pulled into the driveway. The sadness he feels is apparent during the track, with background guitar lines being combined with pounding riffs and purposeful drumming, with the chorus accentuated by some background screaming.
This ability to turn on a dime and have moments of sheer catharsis is something that Sorority Noise perfects with this album, with the ending of the second track A Portrait Of being the best example of this, with the vocals going from almost monologue-style speaking to frenzied screaming as the instrumentation builds in the background, giving the track a very off-kilter feel to go with the lyrics and feelings being expressed.
The lyrics in this album hit many different topics, such as death, religion (Second Letter to St. Julian), futility (A Better Sun) and missing out on the lives of others while on tour (Car), with Cameron delivering a gauntlet of depressing lyrics with a head on approach with the occasional flash of dry humour, such as during the track Disappeared:
“Just this year I lost a basketball team to heaven
And I’m sure they’re shooting jumpers
With Jesus, Mary, and Joseph”
Honestly, this album is an exhausting listen because of this, with listeners feeling like that are hearing something intensely intimate and personal that, quite frankly, makes some songs quite hard to listen too.
One thing of notice about the lyrics is that Cameron seems to write lyrics that capture snapshots of moments, giving the lyrics a far more personal, revealing touch, such as the lyrics in Car:
“Twenty minutes ago you called me on my phone
You said, “Cameron, why do I feel so alone?”
I said, “I’m sorry, is there anything I can do?”
You said, “Care about me like you used to.”
Not too long ago you called me on my phone
And I held back tears ’cause I was feeling so alone
I have to be stronger or at least much stronger than I’ve been
Like a father or the son, holy spirit, amen.”
The instrumentation on this album is top notch, with the band able to switch from fast paced pop punk (similar to Modern Baseball) to slower, acoustic sections to more impactful dissonant sections (where Sorority Noise sound like The Hotelier) and it feel completely natural, with these changes often occurring on the turn of a dime, such as during the song ‘Second Letter from St Julien’. Guitarists Cameron Boucher and Adam Ackerman use delayed, ambient guitar lines to great effect on this album, using them at the right moments to give the songs a more emotional edge. While drummer Charlie Singer having an almost innate knowledge of what to do to fit the song, ranging from the purposeful pounding during the chorus of No Halo to the delicate drumwork during the first half of Leave the Fan On, bassist Ryan McKenna serves to keep the album grounded, with a rumbling bass tone often apparent throughout the whole album.
Vocally, there is a wide range of display here, with Cameron Boucher being able to range from deep singing vocals, to higher pitched vocals reminiscent to Modern Baseball and a raw scream very similar to Jesse Lacey from Brand New, with backup vocals being used to great effect throughout the album, often giving choruses an extra punch with background screaming by Adam Ackerman and Ryan McKenna giving songs an occasional edge.
You Not As ___ As You Think is an intensely personal and raw listen, with listeners being put through a range of emotions guided by Cameron Boucher’s lyrics. The way that quite dark and and uncomfortable themes are faced head on is what make this album such an intimate and rewarding listen.