Photo Credit: Pat Nolan
On a surface level, Sorority Noise’s third album delivers much the same type of painfully honest emo-punk that we’ve come to expect from such a band. Just by glancing at the album title and giving the opening track No Halo a quick listen, you would perhaps assume that this record isn’t be much of a departure from their former releases.
If you thought this (and it’s okay, because we might have too) then you’re totally wrong.
You’re Not As _____ As You Think does have a consistent feel to it, in the way that any established band with a distinct sound is bound to; however, this record shows us that the lyrical and emotional tone of the band has changed significantly. We would argue that singer Cameron Boucher’s lyrics, and his delivery of those lyrics, is what forms the basis of Sorority Noise, so it’s immediately obvious to any attentive listener when such a fundamental important aspect of the band has shifted into something new.
You’re Not As _____ As You Think has to be the band’s most emotionally ambitious album to date. Themes of love, self worth and death have all been common to a Sorority Noise song in the past, but we’ve never seen them presented by Boucher in such a new and vulnerable light and with such an intense religious slant. Whether you can identity with this aspect of the record or not, this spiritual struggle connects to the existentialism and depression that some fans and listeners may have felt on a wider scale, regardless of faith. Boucher questions it all too, and exposes his insecurities to us in a way that feels very real. The idea of grief and of loved ones committing suicide is so prominent throughout the album, and we can see this in Second Letter from St. Julie, in the lyrics: “I’ve lost friends to heroin/So what’s your God trying to prove?” And “How can I believe in God if he won’t believe in me?” These lyrics suggest that You’re Not As _____ As You Think serves a very particular purpose for the band and for Boucher, as a method of coping and grieving.
This isn’t more apparent anywhere on the album than in Car. This song feels so incredibly genuine, and nothing captures that feeling more when Boucher sings: “I said ”I’m sorry, is there anything I can do?/she said ‘care about me like you used to.'” The way the band manage to express this feeling of bittersweet despair is only partly due to the lyrics and vocals. There’s an excellent dynamic in the drums and bass guitar between loud and quiet, turning what would be a simple punk song format into something more interesting. Admittedly, it’s annoying if you’ve got your headphones full on volume, but it is ultimately powerful and works very well. The signature “Sorority Noise guitars” are also lovely in the bridge, and the loud final repetition of the opening verse with screaming vocals is really what we consider to be good, proper emo (and that’s definitely a compliment!). The same can be said for No Halo. This song is perfect as an album opener. The thudding drums and memorable opening guitar riff, as well as the unapologetically blunt lyrics in the chorus “so I didn’t go to your funeral/but I showed up to your house/and I didn’t move a muscle/I was quiet as a mouse” has all the hallmarks of a classic without deliberately pandering to some kind of nostalgia.
A Better Sun makes for an unorthodox choice of second single, as it’s not as immediately captivating as say, A Portrait Of or Car. The linear, repetitive feel of the track and experimental distortion does add something different to the record, and we like Boucher’s witty, deadpan delivery, especially his closing words “this is the part where it ends.”
Most of all, we love just how much stronger Sorority Noise feels as a music unit, and how they’ve clearly developed and cultivated their sound. Like Joy, Departed, this album is breezy, whimsical and vulnerable, but it has the same cohesive and raw sound that made their debut record Forgettable so, well, unforgettable. Listening to You’re Not As _____ As You Think, we can recognise that the band have managed to combine all these strengths and pour them into 10 songs, resulting in an excellent album.
Standout Track: Car
For Fans Of: Modern Baseball, Old Gray, The Front Bottoms
Written By: Kathryn Woods