Sorority Noise's latest album mingles depth with hope

NOSELL

NOSELL
Cooking Vinyl

 

Monday, March 20, 2017 - 2:43pm

Sorority Noise is a really sad band — at least that’s exactly what every other thinkpiece seems to deem their defining quality. Sorority Noise seem to be constantly associated with depressing lyrics cloaked in pop-rock. This, however, is a base look at a band that has proven to be much more complex than simply “sad.”

On their third album, You’re Not As _____ As You Think, Sorority Noise continues to dabble in hope and self-improvement, writing incredibly catchy songs with sing-along choruses, but frontman Cam Boucher has begun to move outside his own head by reflecting on the world around him and his place within it. Like Boucher’s most recent release Slow Burn (from his heavier project Old Gray) the album largely deals with death, but it is less depressing than it is thoughtful and uplifting.

The album opener “No Halo” follows the story of Boucher visiting the home of a friend who had committed suicide a year earlier. Boucher takes this morose tale and gives it a hauntingly human contemplation on existentialism. “So when you show up to my funeral / Will you be wearing white or black?” asks Boucher — questions whether death should be celebratory or mournful. Boucher has proved his impressive growth in his skillful songwriting since the band’s debut album Forgettable. Moving beyond the basic self-loathing associated with emo music, Boucher asks questions about this sadness, forcing the listener into his head to contemplate what he contemplates.

Boucher opens the most anthemic track on the record “Disappeared” with “I took some time to myself / To sort out all the things that make me feel the way that I feel.” With this track, Boucher again asks questions by reflecting about the permanence of death — the complete severing of a personal connection and how viscerally it can be felt. It’s the beginning of a lightly sung track that builds into an explosive chorus: a technique that Sorority Noise has nearly perfected. Boucher knows exactly how to craft a song that begs for deafening sing-alongs, a common occurrence at nearly every Sorority Noise show I’ve attended.

The album also features an interestingly tongue-in-cheek religious undertone. Multiple songs reference Christian figures in a light-hearted manner. From “shooting jumpers with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph” to angels “drinking up whiskey and cokes,” Boucher unabashedly reveals his carefree attitude of the afterlife and religion, and this nonchalance feels fits comfortably in the album. At his most raw take on religion, Boucher pokes fun at circumstantial misfortune with the line “It's been awhile since I've seen God / And I'm not trying to lead him on / But he's always trying to fuck me to the tune of my favorite song.” Boucher expertly ties humor and sadness in reflections, and the lines shine brightly among the pop melodies.

Still, Sorority Noise hasn't turned its back on the tender, quiet tunes they’re also known for. “A Better Sun” softly sends nods to Boucher’s friends and influences in Modern Baseball, Julien Baker and many others. In an interview with Uproxx, Boucher notes that this track stems from his education in jazz music, showcasing his diverse, multi-faceted approach to songwriting by applying jazz principles to the acoustic side of his music. “Leave The Fan On” is most similar to the tense “Your Soft Blood” from their sophomore record Joy, Departed. These tracks act as a jarring pacemaker, reminding the listener that Boucher isn’t immune to the more melancholic side of existence.

As You Think is an album that is fully on par with what we know from Sorority Noise. On the surface, it’s a diverse, fun album to listen to. But at its core, it is a haunting look at the human reaction to death. As the members of Sorority Noise continue to develop as musicians, they’ve grown beyond a genre that can easily pigeonhole artists to less prolific work. Their third record is an exciting milestone in modern emo, and with it Sorority Noise has begun to cement its place at the top.