Sorry are an export from the painfully cool South London scene that birthed Shame and HMLTD. They’re a little late with their debut album, taking a more circuitous path than their contemporaries. But, 3 years after signing to Domino, we have been presented with 925.
The band consist of Asha Lorenz and Louis O’Brien: Lorenz being the closest thing to a frontwoman they have, and O’Brien their musical heart, producing their entire output thus far. A DIY approach is, and always has been central to Sorry, and the bones of O’Brien’s homemade construction are still obvious, in a very endearing way. Sorry caught Domino’s attention off the back of 2 homemade mixtapes, and their music has retained that sense of being held together by tape and elbow grease, right through to the studio. Shiny, overproduced perfection this is not.
Sorry are familiar chiefly as a singles band, and this is front and centre throughout 925. The LP was trailed by six tracks, and these appear largely unchanged in the running order. Sorry’s firepower lies in these songs – ‘Starstruck’ and ‘More’ have more hooks than they know what to do with, and this twisted take on pop is their calling card. Every sound feels percussive, and the result is infectiously bombastic. Their principal mode of attack is warped gutter-pop, all grimy earworms and unsettling lyrics.
There’s another side to their songwriting, though, rearing its head on cuts like ‘Rosie’ and ‘Heather’. A childlike innocence here, a dreamy feel – or as far from nightmareish as Sorry get. ‘Rosie’ is a perfect example; seemingly simplistic, but actually a deceptively moving yarn. Mention must also be given to the woozy, processed saxophone on this one; not many bands tour with a saxophonist, but Sorry treat it as every other creative leap they take – making it seem perfectly pedestrian, and necessary.
Lorenz’ is an intriguing voice: an innocent, nearly naïve delivery, but just below the surface lies a sinister realism. Trysts with washed-up rockstars, and tales of the most dysfunctional of relationships are just part of the lyrical wallpaper. She’s always addressing someone, just out of frame, with a keening, longing reliance. Considering that she cuts an intimidating figure, she presents as remarkably vulnerable on record.
925 is not without its flaws: the singles are dispersed throughout the album, but the result is oddly inconsistent, kinetic one second, mournful the next. One fan-favourite, ‘Lies’, appears in a reworked form. It’s always odd living with a familiar track being changed, but here the discomfort lies in the fact that they’ve reduced the song, rather than added to it. The previously emotive banger is clouded by unfocused production, resulting in a lowkey electropop slowburn – it’s a shame that the closing track is the only misstep.
925 is one of the stranger pop albums you’ll hear all year, but buried underneath layers of unusual production are some of the most alluringly odd earworms in recent memory. Sorry have produced a fantastically off-kilter LP, and are one of the most exciting bands in circulation right now.