Sorority Noise Continue To Grow
Dealing with grief is a process nobody wants to go through, but everyone does. The loss of a loved one or friend takes one on a personal journey of depression, sadness and, in the end, self-discovery. When the deceased passes from suicide, these thoughts double in a self-crippling state. This is You’re Not As ___ As You Think.
Sorority Noise are a group of indie-rockers from Hartford, Connecticut. Their past releases have connected with listeners, offering a brand of catchy pop-punk that dealt with serious issues, including mental health disorders. The group’s first LP, Forgettable, was their poppiest release. The record added humor to topics of breakups with angry emo punk tracks. 2015’s Joy, Departed took a dive into dealing with depression in a much darker, yet softer album. Sorority Noise’s newest release follows the path that Joy, Departed constructed, with similar themes of suffering from depression, mixed with the ideas of religion and dealing with death.
You’re Not As ___ As You Think, from Triple Crown Records, is Sorority Noise at their most honest and emotional state. It is lead singer Cameron Boucher’s most emotionally taxing album since his side-project screamo band, Old Gray, who released Slow Burn late last year. He is able to combine the brutal noisiness of Old Gray with the punk rock of Sorority Noise in a beautiful marriage of sounds. Part of this triumph comes through the production of Mike Sapone, who famously produced the Brand New records. The comparisons can definitely be made between the two emo bands, specifically in this album.
The LP opens up with the first single “No Halo.” The thumping guitar riff at the beginning cuts into some heart-wrenching lyrics about dealing with a friend passing away due to suicide. Boucher sings about sharing the same personal demons his friend did when he says, “Maybe that’s why I’ve been weak / the same things that plague you still plaguing me / God called you to fulfill a vacancy / I tried to see why it wasn’t me.” When the song picks up in the chorus one can see a dash of Old Gray added to this recipe, as there are shades of screamo and post-hardcore that ring throughout the whole record.
Track two, “A Portrait Of,” is one the highlights from You’re Not As ___ As You Think. The ringing of the guitar riff that follows the verses will make any listener fall over from whiplash, like Marty McFly testing Doc Brown’s amplifier. The background vocals, specifically during the buildup, are an addition that makes this track that much better. They are an almost spot-on impression of the background vocals of Brand New’s “Jude Law And The Semester Abroad.” Overall, this is an underrated aspect on this record, as these background vocals complement Boucher’s voice perfectly, helping it to proclaim his message.
The two letter songs on this album — “First Letter From St. Sean” and “Second Letter From Saint Julien” — are beautiful acoustic pieces that are well-needed comedowns from the album’s overall energy. “Second Letter From Saint Julien” highlights the whole idea of religion in this record, which Boucher has never ventured to talk about before. Overall, his take on religion is well established in this song; he cannot help but be doubtful based on what has happened to him throughout his life. He mumbles morbid lyrics about God such as, “You say he’s alive / his spirit flows through your veins / well I guess my best friend / was just trying to help the spirit escape.”
“A Better Sun” is a song that takes some time to get used to. It features Boucher monotonically mumbling lyrics that come off as spoken word. This should not be a surprise to any Old Gray listeners, but to Sorority Noise fans it is probably rather novel. Boucher makes references to friends Julien Baker, Modern Baseball and Into It Over It in this song, but it does not come off as cheesy, but rather fits into the context of the song and its overall themes.
“Car” and “Disappeared” talk about the relationships between friends who deal with mental issues. The instrumental work in these two songs is the peak of this album musically, particularly the ending power chords of “Disappeared” that serve as a breakdown to a mentally exhausting track. The drums are another piece on this album that adds to its overall energy, as they build up in every track to a climax with the songs.
Overall, Sorority Noise have reached their highest point yet in this album. Lyrically, they have tackled chilling subject matter, dealing with the death of friends, Boucher’s religion and depression. The tracklist could have been different, as ending with a positive note like “Where Are You?” would leave fans feeling optimistic. But the point of Sorority Noise’s music, thematically, is the idea that dealing with personal demons is a part of life, “and they’re not going to be leaving anytime soon.” It is natural in this state to have ups and downs, so overall the track order works. Also, the album’s production value is Sorority Noise’s best to date. The work of Mike Sapone has allowed for Sorority Noise to put out their The Devil and God Are Raging Inside of Me, with shouting and high distortion included. Not to mention, the instrumentals are also the band’s personal best. Sorority Noise have certainly hit their stride in their race to the top in this therapeutic release.