Review: Sorority Noise—”You’re Not As ______ As You Think”

Posted: by Hannah

you're not as _____ as you think

Honestly, I don’t want to give it a rating. I don’t want to tell you about the history of emo or what wave we are in. I don’t want to compare the sound to four other bands that catch your ear. So I am not going to.  It’s easy to get caught up in the formalities of reviews, but this album isn’t easy and I will try to respect that. This is about the often-harsh reality of mental illness, of death and loss, even of recovery; but it’s also about working toward bettering yourself because you know you deserve it.

You’re Not As _____ As You Think by Sorority Noise is a cathartic collection of tracks that are all bigger than themselves, exploring both life and death in the most raw sense. The lyrics on this album weren’t written for an audience, but they were shared for one. Loss is a universal feeling, but the depth of that experience can vary immensely. In this case, loss is more permanent as opposed to temporary; not someone stealing something from your hand, but actually chopping it off and leaving you a phantom limb to cope with. Loss that simultaneously makes you forget how to live, while reminding you you’re in fact alive, and not knowing if that’s relieving or terrifying.

“No Halo” opens up the album with a page seemingly torn out of a self-therapy journal where the line, “So I didn’t show up to your funeral/But I showed up to your house” bleeds through the pages. “A Portrait Of” is a more tense public confessional track, finally exploding in a spur-of-the-moment soliloquy. Although it’s hard to discern every word, if you’ve hit that breaking point of mental exhaustion before, it’s all too easy to empathize with. Cameron Boucher has always thankfully allowed himself to be transparent about depression and mental health struggles, but on this record it’s more confrontational. Older songs like “Using” and “Blonde Hair, Black Lungs” had the same open conversations, but listeners could easily dance or sing along with the demons he is now fighting directly.

“Disappeared” sounds like the morning you wake up determined to get better; cleaning your room, coming to terms,  taking “a shower for the first time in what felt like weeks”, and trying to make that feel like enough after a year in which you “lost a basketball team to heaven”. “A Better Sun” appears to reference Into It. Over It., Modern Baseball and Julien Baker with, “This is the part where I am proper/This is the part where I’m just another face/This is the part where I’m a marathon runner and both my ankles are sprained.” Many of the songs are introspective, even isolated, but this nod to friends and a community serves as a reminder that we need other people. By the end of the record the band is in a “New Room” that sounds a whole other room away, but maybe you can join them there and come to the conclusion that you really aren’t alone.

Producer Mike Sapone, known for working with Brand New and Taking Back Sunday, pushed Sorority Noise as a whole to their full potential so that each instrument could express emotion and transcend itself in an effort to be not only heard, but felt. There is a reoccurring theme of juxtaposition; between darker, unbridled songwriting yet shimmering fine-tuned guitars (“Where Are You”), between acknowledging spirituality while questioning everything it stands for (“Second Letter From St. Julien”), and between admitting to self-destruction and a yearning for self-care (“First Letter From St. Sean”). The constant contrasts creates a demanding and visual listening experience, a reminder that music is an art form which isn’t always easy to digest but maybe that much more important to consume.

Boucher asks a lot of questions and explores a lot of subjects, but doesn’t always find answers or destinations. Instead, it’s the courage to go there in the first place that matters. By the end, Boucher’s only hope is that he’s given you the tools to fill in the blank in the title for yourself.

Hannah Hines | @Hannah70x7