Escaping the chaos with Sorry and their warm, comforting indie-pop
Sorry, the UK duo releasing their debut album via Domino, are making music to escape in a time where it’s needed more than ever.
Header image by Sam Hiscox.
We’re not here to tell you about the world’s current sense of chaos. It’s everywhere, dominating every news hour, every conversation, and every piece of writing from the last month and probably for the next few too. At a time where a sense of escapism is needed more than ever, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do exactly that - even Animal Crossing, the video game infamously notorious for its light-hearted escapism, is being plagued with doctors masks and pandemic paranoia. It’s a strange thing to mention in an article about a UK duo making charming soft-pop, but when the things designed to give us a sense of comfort can barely even give us comfort, where do we look next.
The answer isn’t mean to lay in Sorry, the North London-based duo that for the last three years, have introduced themselves as a rising force in subtle indie in a place becoming known for the sound’s next generation. Yet, with their debut album - last week’s arriving 925 - Sorry are somehow finding themselves as a source of escape in a time where people are scrambling for something - anything, really - to take them away from what’s happening.
On a surface level, you’d understand why 925 is providing a sense of comfort in today’s climate. After a string of singles introduced the pairing of best friends Asha Lorenz and Louis O’Bryen back in 2017, 925 is a record that plucks the soothing soundscapes underlying these singles and fleshes them out into a groove-filled, guitar-backed 13 tracks. It’s an album that follows the path of rich shoegaze and hazy indie-pop but then adds to it. Starstruck, an album favourite and highlight of their discography that provides the perfect example, pairs attitude - the bookends of each of the choruses’ sub-sections is welcomed with an iconic “Ugh!” - with dreamy, washed-out verses that contrast them; building on distinctive, familiar sounds to create anything but.
This versatility and forward-thinking growth is a quality that finds itself across much of the album’s hazy 43 minutes. On In Unison, Sorry pair upbeat indie-pop with a long-winding, crunching introduction that gives the album a slightly more rock-adjacent edge, while on Wolf around midway through the album, these rich indie grooves are transformed into a slow-slung, blues-esque rhythm that moves an entirely different pace (for the most part). The record is focused and direct - it’s clear where Sorry’s sound sits in the overarching umbrella - but they’re not afraid to shake things up and keep things moving, and that’s a quality that’ll keep you coming back.
Dive a touch deeper, however, and this comforting haze that swirls around the album’s many sounds - despite how blues-y or rock-y they may get - makes itself more present and recognised. While the album’s rich movement and warm familiarity embraces you like an in-arms dance with someone you love that takes you out of the moment, there’s something else beneath 925’s musical richness which presents the most potent source of comfort.
“It’s comforting to listen to music when everything around you feels like it is collapsing,” says the duo’s Louis O’Bryen on the album, despite not predicting the messiness in which the album would be released amongst. It’s interesting seeing how albums finished months ago - when COVID-19 was a complete unknown in our future - take a completely new shape and meaning when they’re released in current-day circumstances. On More, lyrics that may sound like a call to help in recording - “I want drugs and drugs and drugs and drugs… I want love.” - feel a little more familiar when they’re listened to alone in isolation; the only excitement in your life being the potential of the black bananas frozen in your kitchen, and what you can turn them into.
Likewise, Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’s tongue-in-cheek takeaways offer moments of humourful relief and light-heartedness - “We want to see what we can get away with,” O’Byren continues - and Right Round The Clock offers dancing familiarity; unshakeable grooves and twisting saxophone combining to create a sound that you’d expect from a modern-day movie’s bar scene, with its warmth flickering through in the form of Tears For Fears interpolations (“The dreams in which we’re famous are the best I’ve ever had,” the duo duet).
Often, it’s difficult to pinpoint where this sense of catharticism comes from, but it’s still there. In Unison is a song that’ll make you reminisce the atmosphere of a live show - something we’re beginning to really miss - with its rich instrumentation and push-and-pull qualities, while album-closer Lies doesn’t just remix an old favourite from the Sorry discography, but completely transforms it into a stinging, warping track that’s perfect for blasting on headphones and walking in the sun (safely, of course).
p dir="ltr">For a debut album, 925 is strikingly strong. It’s a record that builds on a discography becoming known as one of the UK’s most exciting - literally, many of the songs on 925 are modernised and re-imagined demos and singles - and for Sorry, it’s an album that introduces them in a more precise, focused and clearly-imagined way that ever before. They’re a band that take favourite sounds - warm shoegaze, haunting indie, light-hearted pop - and mould and shake them together, finding their own lane by building from others and carving new paths by wandering down some already explored.
Regardless of its source, the unshakeable warmth and comfort of 925 is needed. That may not have been what they were after - it’s impossible to picture the duo coming into the studio years ago and saying “let’s release a potently warm and rich record in the middle of a global pandemic - but the beauty of Sorry’s music is that people can take from it what they wish. Whether they see it as a simple indie-rock album or something bigger is up to the listener, but 925 has the backbone to be both, and that’s an incredibly difficult thing to do for a band exploring their first full-length record format.
Sorry's debut album 925 is out now via Domino Recording Co.
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