Review Summary: Sorority Noise find a new identity for themselves, shedding their skin, and releasing a far from Forgettable album in the process.
Death is something that remains a constant in our world. It’s a fair certainty that we’ve all thought about and somewhat come to terms with. Some would like it to come when they’re young, so they don’t have to deal with life’s decline or indefinite malaise, but this doesn’t work for Sorority Noise frontman Cam Boucher. “I’m not trying to say it’s easy, but I’m trying to say it’s fine” states Boucher on the 2nd track, “A Portrait Of”. With the death of a loved one, we seem to lose all hope of some sort of a happy ending, let alone with the death of 5. In some ways, this invoked maturity and change in the mood for Cam. You’re Not As _____ As You Think
seems to be Boucher’s way of getting over the melodramatics of Forgettable
and getting real about the hopefulness of Joy, Departed
Lyrically, YNAAYT is quite a departure from the past two albums. Long gone are the outcries for past relationships and talks of sleeping in/wearing black. The lyrics mostly deal with the people either in Cam’s life, or for the lack thereof. Cam’s friend, Sean, who had apparently taken his own life recently, is a major discussion point on this record. We heard a lot about this friend on 2016’s lackluster It Kindly Stopped For Me
, but Cam goes into greater detail about some of these issues and the coming to terms with suicide on songs like “First Letter from St. Sean” and “No Halo”, singing about how he doesn’t know where he is but Cam will still hold him fondly in remembrance.
When it comes to the overall instrumental mood of the record, it has a vast improvement from the band’s previous efforts. There’s no more one dimensional guitar lines with mediocre at best drum parts from Forgettable
, there’s no more head-smashing, simplistic heaviness, followed by awkwardly transitioned and placed post-rock wannabe moments from Joy, Departed
. If any of these aspects of the band remain, they’ve been improved drastically from previous attempts. These awkward post-rock attempts have been replaced with beautiful yet bleak moments like the climaxes on overall powerhouse track “A Portrait Of” and the religion laden “Second Letter From St. Julien” which takes inspiration from Cam’s friendship with indie folk artist Julien Baker, who lyrically appears all over this thing. Of course, the simplistic heaviness is still represented in some aspects, as it really wouldn’t be a Sorority Noise record without it. The climax of “Disappeared” is one of the best moments of the band’s history, and will have you screaming out loud the lines I let my hair down today, and I took a shower for the first time in what had felt like weeks / I felt my hair falling out and I felt myself falling down / But that can’t seem to be the reason i can’t sleep when i’m alone / It’s getting better and it’s hardly getting worse / It’s hard to think about the things that make it all hurt
like something off a Joyce Manor record or something. The guitars never feel twinkly, but never too overaggressive, while the drums maintain the right amount of punch, with actually audible bass providing good a rhythmic backdrop for the album to beat you over the head emotionally with.
Overall, YNAAYT is a huge improvement in every aspect from their previous efforts, with improved production and mixing being a major one, with nothing left feeling overbearing nor washed out. Lyrically, the album takes a more realist approach to songwriting compared to the over pessimistic and melodramatic Forgettable
and the over hopefulness of Joy, Departed
. The topic of death and coping with it, along the undertones of religious questioning never seems to fail to connote a sense of contemplation within the listener, leaving them with something to think about after the album is over, which a lot of albums in the scene have seemingly failed to do so recently.
A Portrait Of
First Letter From St. Sean
Where Are You?