When discussing Sorority Noise, there are two important things to remember: the first is Sorority Noise’s worst quality. Sorority Noise’s worst quality is easily their difficulty in writing soft and slow songs. The final two songs on Forgettable are the weakest on that album. “Fluorescent Black” and “Your Soft Blood” are terribly boring until they pick up, and even then, they’re not great. The two releases that Sorority Noise has made since the release of Joy, Departed are exclusively slow, soft songs, and neither is even worth listening to. It’s really a testament to how good Sorority Noise has gotten to show that their latest album You’re Not As _______ As You Think has six slow songs, and it’s their best yet.
The second most important quality to remember is the band that came before Sorority Noise: Old Gray. Sorority Noise was originally an Old Gray side-project with only Cameron Boucher and Adam Ackerman. Now that Charlie Singer has replaced Jason Rule on drums, both bands boast the same members save for bassist Ryan McKenna. Last year, Old Gray put out the excellent Slow Burn, and sonically, You’re Not As _____ As You Think and Slow Burn wear a lot of the same shoes. This isn’t the bright, glossy Sorority Noise of the past. Even though dark themes have always emerged in Boucher’s lyrics, the music has typically sounded bright and upbeat. The band creates a much larger atmosphere on many of their songs now. Going with the religious themes on this record, it sounds like parts were recorded in a cathedral. Boucher’s singing abilities are also much more confident in these songs than in the past. His voice is fuller, and he allows himself to scream like he would on Slow Burn. The band is unafraid to blur the lines with Old Gray, and both qualities compliment the slow songs.
The band is also unafraid to venture into new territory: like using lo-fi sounds on “New Room” or merging acoustic guitars into their upbeat, pop-punk songs like “Car” and “Where Are You?” The band still write anthemic sounding songs, but “No Halo” is different from “Nolsey” in the way that it’s serious through and through. “No Halo” doesn’t have any bright tones or a hair metal guitar solo; its dark and cold sounding. There are still songs that resemble the power-pop of the band’s past: “Car” sounds like a song by The Cars, and “A Portrait Of” resembles the sort of pop-punk that Modern Baseball made their name on.
Where Sorority Noise’s previous two efforts were very self-reflective for Cameron Boucher, there is much more external conflict on this record than the band has previously covered. Boucher talks in detail about a number of his friends’ deaths from suicide and drug overdoses. Both “First Letter from St. Sean” and “Second Letter from St. Julien” are about dead friends, and its perhaps the most emotive Boucher has ever sounded on record. During “Second Letter,” Boucher sounds on the verge of tears as he howls:
And if you’re with God
Well, I hope that you’re proud
With a smile on your face.
“No Halo”, “Disappeared”, and “First Letter” are all focused around the death of Boucher’s friend, Sean, and they all go through a handful of feelings during death. “First Letter” seems to focus on actually imagining his dead friend, where “No Halo” and “Disappeared” focus on his coping mechanisms. “Disappeared” is about always remembering his dead friend despite that “he thought we wouldn’t notice/if he had disappeared.” The chorus of “No Halo” introduces the record with a darker story about going to Sean’s house shortly after his death. It’s still riddled with self-doubt ending with the line: “And if there’s a race to heaven/I will always come in last.”
Boucher has stated that religion is a major theme on the album, and it is. “God” is referenced a number of times throughout the record. “Disappeared” references “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” but the other most referenced religious term is “heaven.” Even though religion is a constant reference, death is the largest theme on this record. Whether Boucher is thinking about his own death and suicidal thoughts or his friends’ deaths, it’s always omnipresent on the album. Boucher sums it up most well when he sings “it gets pretty cold, when at 23 years-old/you’ve been running from death your whole life.” Despite death being such a large theme throughout the album, the message is clear just a few lines before that one: “Take care of yourself.”
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