Review Summary: Something borrowed
Cameron Boucher has lost a lot of friends, and it seems to be the only thing on his mind. His tremendous loss isn’t hiding in the subtext of You’re Not As ___ As You Think
- it’s constantly right up in your face: “When your best friend dies / and your next friend dies / and your best friend’s friend takes his life.”
Cameron’s religious beliefs offer him a perspective on death and loss: “And they’re playing the ‘59 Sound in heaven / While the angels were drinking up whiskeys and coke.”
Cameron also spends a fair share of his time feeling like he’s just going through the motions of grief: “This is the part where I am proper / This is the part where I’m just another face / This is the part where I’m a marathon runner and both my ankles are sprained.”
If this is all beginning to sound a little too familiar, that’s because it is. Dealing with the death of a friend, paralyzing grief, suicidal thoughts, and a dialogue with God are all topics that have been exhausted in recent years by emo and indie peers such as The Hotelier, Julien Baker, and Modern Baseball, and much of the lyrics on You’re Not As ___ As You Think
are nods to other bands. Sorority Noise can still manage to create a sound all their own despite similarities, but constantly making references to not only these artists, but Brand New, Into It. Over It. and The Gaslight Anthem effectively draws attention to the derivative, unoriginal nature of the record. Cameron Boucher has lost a lot of friends, but it hasn’t stopped him from aping all his favorite bands.
You’re Not As ___ As You Think
is an exercise in simplicity - all the songs are more or less about the same thing, the chord progressions are basic, and Cameron’s vocals live comfortably in a one octave range. Such simplicity if executed correctly can be charming, but the clumsy and unoriginal songwriting comes off as pedestrian more than anything. Cameron Boucher’s struggles are heavy, and potentially powerful, they are a stark contrast to the breakup jams on previous Sorority Noise albums, but Cameron already covered many of the same topics with his other band Old Gray’s equally disappointing 2016 release Slow Burn.
Repeating the same sentiments ad nauseum doesn’t result in a bold, candid statement release, it makes for a stale, repetitive, and lifeless record. Sorority Noise dig their own grave with all of the references, as all it does is force the listener to compare this album with better albums. Other artists are able to pull off the “no-frills/basic/off-the-cuff” sort of deal because they have the songwriting skills, and a penchant for presentation. Cameron Boucher doesn’t have the guitar chops or a voice like Julien Baker, he can’t write poetic lyrics the way The Hotelier can, he can’t pull off a Gaslight Anthem brand anthem, and his songwriting just isn’t there the way it is on a Brand New record. Sorority Noise is trying to stand on the shoulders of the bands they reference, but their execution is so clumsy they aren’t even in reach of said bands. You’re Not As ___ As You Think
feels like the conclusion to something that was never started in the first place, it hasn’t earned any of the things it takes without asking, it’s a shallow pretender desperately fumbling in the deep end, and it’s an unfortunate development for a band that used to write dumb, fun songs about girls.