Feature: Sorry are in a league of their own

Thursday, March 26, 2020
Photo by Sam Hiscox

There's no denying it, North London’s Sorry are in a league of their own. Their long-awaited debut album (and arguably one of the best albums of 2020) 925 can be described as a bubbling cauldron swirling with intoxicating and peculiar ingredients that they’ve concocted themselves. As inventive and unique as Sorry are, their music never feels forced or overcooked — they ooze an understated level of cool. There’s no hidden act, they appear exactly as they are and somehow amongst the chaos, they’ve been able to balance the art of not taking themselves too seriously with knowing exactly what they want to do.

Before Asha Lorenz and Louis O’Bryen, who started making music together after meeting at school, were Sorry, they were known as Fish. But according to Lorenz, it wasn’t a matter of changing direction, it was just a formality — another artist had the name and there was pressure on the then up-and-comers to change it. “We had to change our name because there was another person called Fish, the music has never changed though.”

Approximately three years ago, they signed a deal with Domino, which came as a result of an email sent by Lorenz. Instead of rushing into an official EP or LP that they didn't feel ready for, they went down the unorthodox path of sharing two visual mixtapes — titled Home Demo​/​ns Vol I and Home Demo​/​ns Vol II respectively. Home Demo​/​ns Vol I was described by the band at the time as “a collection of fibs and fables, thoughts and opinions. Parables and problemos. Personal and public.” Their early offering provided a taste of what they were capable of, both sonically and visually. The first mixtape also features early renditions of ‘Ode To Boy’ and ‘Snakes’, both also appear on the album

The momentum continued with their second mixtape, released in 2018. Lorenz notes that in the beginning, they weren’t focused on the formal process of releasing music, they just wanted to get music out there after working on an abundance of demos. “We have loads of demos at home, even now we’re always making music at home. The mixtapes were a way for us to put music out there for free for people to listen to.”

The mixtapes that came before 925 allowed them to naturally figure out the direction that they wanted to take before jumping in a studio. Their earlier singles weren’t indicative of what they wanted Sorry to sound like — mainly due to being too guitar-heavy, they didn’t want to be another 'guitar band’. They also needed to find the right person to work with, which they found in James Dring — who has previously worked with the likes of Gorillaz and Nilüfer Yanya. Lorenz admits that they wanted to refine the demos and expand on them as opposed to working with completely new songs. “By the time we got to the album, we knew we wanted a good balance of studio recording and making music at home. We wanted to polish and expand the demos we already had instead of starting again. We also had to find the right person."

They might sound more polished due to recording in a studio, but Sorry's original fabric is still very much intact on 925. Though their earlier singles were much more guitar-heavy and rock-leaning, it’s something they’ve moved away from, instead, moving towards a more eclectic approach. When you ask Lorenz about Sorry’s take on genre, it’s clear that it isn’t something they force upon themselves —  the sound is a natural progression of the song’s narrative or the mood they’re trying to present, it’s not something they overthink.

One of the many reasons why their palette is unpredictable and always fascinating is due to the fact that their influences come from an array of sources — on 925, they cite the likes of poet Hermann Hesse as an influence, as well as Aphex Twin and Tony Bennett. Lorenz says there’s never one particular thing that inspires them, “It’s never one specific thing that we’re drawn to. Movies and books always inspire us, but so do our friends as well.”

Film is the first artform that comes to mind when listening to the album. Each of the tracks could easily find themselves in a film noir soundtrack. Just like the cinematic style, the songs are reminiscent of the dim hours of the night when the rest of the city is fast asleep — picture rain-slicked streets, smokey alleys, seductive protagonists and a lurking and unshakable shadow, and then hit play on 925.

Just like their mixtape days, the visual element of Sorry is just as important as the sonic experience of their music. All the singles from 925 have been released with a video, including this week’s single ‘As The Sun Sets’, which is a gloomy take on Louis Armstrong’s ‘What A Wonderful World’. The album’s first cut ‘Starstruck’ features a borderline-NSFW glitchy cam-style video, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’ stars Lorenz impersonating Elvis and ‘Snakes’ sees Lorenz and O’Bryen get inevitably eaten by a snake who has been sizing them up. Each of the videos end with a quick preview of the next single that’s set to follow, leaving listeners in anticipation of what’s coming next.

Just like the music, the videos are of their own doing — though they collaborate with their creative friends, they have creative control of videos just like they did when they created the mixtapes, that hasn't changed. Lorenz said on making their videos, “It’s nice to be able to do what you want. With the videos, it gives listeners another look into the world of the song.”

The way Sorry conjures up sounds or comes up with video ideas is something they don’t overshare, and quizzing them on it isn’t going to get you very far — and to be frank, they don’t need to explain what they do in great detail, it’s all right there for all us to appreciate on 925.

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)

925 will be released via Domino on Friday, 27th March. Click here to get the album once it's available. 

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