By Cole Faulkner
For some of us, Sorority Noise may have previously just been “that band sharing the back half of a split with last year’s indie rock breakouts Somos.” Considering that up until now that shared effort may have afforded the Hartford, CT quartet the most publicity, that’s not an entirely unfair description. But their debut full length, Joy, Departed, is about to change that in a big way. Sorority Noise has hit altrock gold with their down to earth blend of soft spoken wisdom and emotionally reflective instrumentalism.
Sorority Noise is akin to the unlikely lovechild of Smoking Popes and Brand New with all the layers and complexities therein. Opener “Blissth” characterizes the dichotomy by easing into a soft flowing string-lead dreamscape that culminates in a big ol’ eruption of piano laced pop-rock. It’s a strong mission statement that only gets better from here on out. “Corrigan” follows suit with a messier cross of both styles that exudes a feel very much in line with with altrock stalwarts Abandoned Pools’ heavier passages. While it’s the instrumental lulls that afford Joy, Departed with the deepest sense of purpose, the crunchy, slicing riffs that sear through emotive moments (think Ace Enders) like “Your Soft Blood” elevate Sorority Noise to a place of rewarded risk taking (such moments culminate in album payout “Using”). Every song feels uniquely purposeful, contributing sonically to an unfolding narrative.
On that note, a big part of Sorority Noise’s underlying draw can be attributed to frontman Cam Boucher’s gritty, reality-embracing lyricism. As is explained across many press releases and interviews, Boucher has battled with clinical depression for the majority of his life. But only recently did he effectively declared war on his inner demons in his commitment to craft songs that battle rather than surrender to internal hardship. Perhaps most explicitly on “Art School Wannabe”, Boucher challenges his low self-image in the passage, “Maybe I’m my own greatest fear, maybe I’m just scared to admit that I might not be as dark as I think, maybe I’m not the person that I never wanted to be.” Joy, Departed is an anti-emo record that isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions and point to recovery instead of passively huddling in the corner of the bedroom with the lights out and windows shuttered.
Joy, Departed is the start of something big for Sorority Noise. With a little luck they will no longer be living in the shadow of splits and minor EPs, and soon earn the recognition that their excellent blend of catchy, honest pop-rock and emo deserves.