By Benjamin Smith, Second Year History
On sophomore album, Anywhere But Here, Sorry largely trades the tongue-in-cheek rock and roll cliches of debut 925 for more earnest portrayals of heartbreak, with the influence of the ever-present city looming large. However, Sorry's penchant for experimentation and refusal to fit into any one musical mould prevent the record from being bogged down by its subject matter.
Sorry, made up of founding members Asha Lorenz and Louis O’Bryen as well as Lincoln Barrett, Campbell Baum and Marco Pini, are hardly new to the alternative rock scene. Although this is only their second album, the band, formerly known as Fish, have been releasing singles and mixtapes under their current name since 2017, alongside contemporaries such as Shame or HMLTD within the recent wave of alternative guitar music emerging around south London. And while Sorry are musically distinct, favouring ambitious genre combinations over the ‘post-punk’ that so many of their peers turn out, the impact that London as a city has had on the band is clear.
On Anywhere But Here Lorenz and O’Bryen write various stories of heartbreak, all of which are weighed down with a claustrophobic yet alienating feeling that comes from the burden of a city like London. Songs like ‘Key To The City’, ‘There’s So Many People That Want To Be Loved’ and ‘Screaming In The Rain’ exemplify this impact of the city, as Lorenz sings “I still look lost / In this city, in this city” on ‘Key To The City’.
Unsurprisingly given the focus on heartbreak within this album, melancholy is the dominant feeling evoked, however Sorry maintain the same variation found in their instrumentation within their lyrics, as they explore the varying shades of sadness found in the end of relationships. The aforementioned ‘Key To The City’ is described by Lorenz as “a kind of tender ‘fuck you’ at the dying moment of a relationship”, while ‘There’s So Many People That Want To Be Loved’ and ‘I Miss The Fool’ examine the dejection and sadness felt in those moments in an honest and open way which may be unfamiliar to listeners of Sorry’s earlier works.
This emotional vulnerability that Sorry introduces here is one of Anywhere But Here’s great strengths, as contrary to their previous music’s self-assured detachedness which kept listeners at a distance, this earnest sensitivity draws you in close . This is also not to say that Sorry have completely departed from their previous lyrical trends, as there is a strong sense of irony in the self-referential ‘Quit While You’re Ahead’, and even on a song like ‘There’s So Many People That Want To Be Loved’ Sorry still inject a dose of humour.
Musically this album does not stray as from Sorry’s debut, 925, while still pushing their experimentation to new limits. There is an undeniable trip-hop influence within Anywhere But Here, possibly due to the involvement of Portishead’s Adrian Utley as a producer on the album, and his impact shines through on tracks like ‘Screaming In The Rain’ and album closer ‘Again’.
There are also more standard rock influences clear on the album, as ‘Closer’ takes 90s alt rock and blends it with midwest-emo tinged guitar however Sorry are just as comfortable venturing in opposite directions with the almost jazzy ‘Willow Tree’. Sorry also have a tendency to drift within songs from genre to genre, as on opener ‘Let The Lights On’ which reads as an indie rock track until a breakdown near the end of the song which evokes dance music, or on ‘I Miss The Fool’ where an operatic sample brightens up the close of the song.
It is also worth mentioning the interplay between Asha Lorenz and Louis O’Bryen, a feature running through all of Sorry’s discography but which is elevated on the record, no doubt in part due to improved production from Utley as well as producer/engineer Ali Chant. Lorenz and O’Bryen have been friends since secondary school, and this relationship not only sits at the heart of Sorry as a band but also on many of Anywhere But Here’s highlights. Either as they trade verses on ‘Tell Me’, or even more effectively as their voices drift over one another’s, falling in and out of time on songs like ‘Quit While You’re Ahead’ or ‘Screaming In The Rain’.
On Anywhere But Here Sorry expands on the promise of their debut 925. Pushing their instrumental inspirations even further, enabled by the improved production from Utley and Chant, Sorry manage to incorporate even more influences, while still maintaining a strong sense of accessibility. This album also sees a more grown up band allowing their guard down lyrically, a move which rewards listeners who can now immerse themselves even further in the dark and fascinating world Sorry create.
Featured Image: Domino Records
Have you listened to Anywhere but Here?