To speak of Sorry in the same sentence as other up-and-coming London bands Goat Girl, Shame, Hotel Lux, Yowl (there are many others I’d care not to mention), as reviewers and bloggers are wont to do, seems to me, a real travesty. I have done so too, only to highlight the absurdity in putting one of the most interesting bands to come out of the London scene in recent years, alongside some fairly uninspiring, “take your top off and shout”, post-punk, that will be forgotten as quickly as it was conceived.
Having recently signed to Domino, Sorry have been touring with Childhood, who are promoting their sophomore album ‘Universal High’, before playing their own headline show at Corsica Studios in London on the 5th of December. I caught both bands on their Manchester leg, as they graced the Deaf Institute on a stormy, cold night in the North.
Sorry take to the stage while their bassist Campbell Baum stands around chatting about their various exploits the night before in Glasgow. He looks up, realises he’s supposed to be doing something, and walks up to join the others, who seemed not to notice he was missing. The band barely introduce themselves, instead launching into “Skin”, a racing alt-rock song with guitar licks that Frank Black would salivate over. From song to song, the crowd are offered little more than an almost indiscernible mumble of thanks from front-woman Asha Lorenz, who seems far more comfortable looking down and getting on with it — something that in the current climate of young upstarts is a real breath of fresh air. None of them get naked or jump into the crowd, it’s confidence without arrogance, and it’s brilliant.
“Lies” draws out the Kim Deal in Lorenz as she laments ‘I make lies like we should be together’ with a gusto rarely exhibited by any of the band, backed by the ever faithful O’Bryen who, perhaps unfortunately, is nothing like Kelley in his basso backing. Clean, truncated chord sequences give way to muddier, distortion-heavy chords and licks, supported by loud and perfectly restrained drumming from Lincon Barrett, and a deep, shuddering bass-line from Baum.
For a band that barely move, they’re totally engaging. Lorenz is constantly shaking her guitar, almost willing it to produce sounds ever more discordant. Their debut single for Domino, “Wished”, is a crunchy, chromatic track that epitomises the dissonant, part-Pixies, part-Sonic Youth, dark and disconcerting sound of a band that don’t seem to care if you have a good time. It moves from noisy guitar hooks, to quieter moments of Lorenz and O’Bryen singing concordantly, the latter with an expression of pure boredom that seems to pervade his every action on stage, to a dark electronic section that is so wonderfully discombobulating that you wished it went on longer.
If Sorry are some form of hair-raising rough surface, then Childhood are a polished marble, or, as someone suggested in the smoking area after some shameless eavesdropping, salt — something that everyone’s tasted before, but that is universally liked (licked). After some extensive sodium chloride research, I found that salt can indeed come in rock form, thus his point remains, and remains a good one at that! If polished marble salt existed, then they’d be just that! “Christ alive, enough with this rock metaphor” — “ok, fair point.”
The seven-piece deliver a perfectly preened set of indie-disco anthems that remain the right side of pop throughout. Lead singer Ben Romans-Hopcraft is antithetical in almost every way to Sorry’s Lorenz, as he moves through ecstatic wide smiles and full body expression, stamping his feet to the flawless accents of “Don’t Have Me Back”, before laughing and joking with the crowd in between tracks. The crowd responds to singles “California Light” and “Cameo”, off their second album Universal High, with whoops as the mixture of neo-soul and jazz-funk incites instinctive movement.
Fan favourite “Blue Velvet” from their first album, is a wonderfully crafted piece of indie-pop with a snare that seems to share the melodic qualities of the guitar, as they become enmeshed within the first couple of bars. Romans-Hopcraft sings the chorus whimsically, looking upwards as he does so at the huge disco ball that, had it been on, could have turned the set into something whisked straight out of the late ’70s. The band’s look would have probably benefitted from this temporal shift, with the bassist in an open collar, red pinstripe polo shirt, sporting long sideburns, Romans-Hopcraft in a brown, unfitted suit, and the guitarist sporting a big-collared mustard shirt. Perhaps I’m being unkind. While they would have looked incongruous the moment they left the venue, stepping out into heavy rain and a dank coldness, when they were up on stage, playing indie-disco anthems — it was perfect.
Filed under: Music