[Domino; 2020]

London band Sorry have been signed to Domino since 2017, when they were all still teenagers. Now they’re releasing their debut album, 925, and while some of them are now in their 20s, they’re still sickeningly young for a band with this much creativity. The label has been patient with them over the years, during which Sorry have continued to mess around with their style and expand their sonic palette, dropping singles every now and then like breadcrumbs leading up to the gingerbread house that is 925.

Except it’s not at all sweet. The other thing that belies Sorry’s youthfulness is the darkness and mature themes that populate their songs. When these came in the form of the lo-fi Home Demo/ns mixtapes, it was easy to dismiss Asha Lorenz and Louis O’Bryen’s words as the idle musings of bored teenagers in their bedrooms but, when blown up to studio-size proportions with all the muscle and fidelity of a bona fide rock band, there’s no escaping the sinister undertones.

925 begins with “Right Round The Clock”, which sounds playful enough with a strut in its step and honking saxophones, until Lorenz announces: “Wanna get in your head / You just want to get out of it.” O’Bryen then steps in to describe a woman with a “dolled-up” woman with “fuck me eyes”. Later in the song they twist Tears For Fears’ classic “Mad World” into their own mould: “I’m feeling kinda crazy, I’m feeling kinda mad / The dreams in which we’re famous are the best I’ve ever had.” It’s clear we’re not dealing with your normal student-age songwriters.

This unvarnished view pervades 925, setting the tone and colour of Sorry’s songs, and it’s a tool they use expertly. Following the opener is “In Unison”, where they reflect voices, both internal and external, constantly asking “what will you get ‘round to doing what you’re supposed to?”, which is given fangs by the thudding, grinding and howling production. “Snakes” is a love song, although one that’s filled with dejection, fear and misery that creeps and clicks while Lorenz sings like a drunken loner. “Rosie” is a gently swaying number that describes a young woman benumbed to the world which has stolen her soul – capped with a deceptively sweet hook that is ready to dig its way into your brain.

Even when Sorry present a straight-up rock banger, of which there are a couple on 925, there’s still a discomfiting undertone. “Starstruck” is a punchy pop-punk song that sees Lorenz affecting a cooler-than-thou demeanour full of snotty “eugh”s, giving us a vision of an unapproachable icon. The galloping and dynamic “Perfect” is a tug-of-war of emotions, flipping between “you know I adore you” and “you know where the door is” with callous ease.

All songs mentioned so far come from 925’s opening half; on the other side of the record they try their hand at a few other styles and it feels a bit more like their less-polished mixtapes, for better or worse. From the folky, devil-may-care “Heather”, to the scronking and disorienting “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”, to the glitchy and choral “Ode to Boy”, Sorry continue to prove that they’re brimming with ideas – although none of them are quite as memorable as the consistently impressive first half.

There are even some songs, like “As The Sun Sets”, “Wolf”, and “More”, which, while still enjoyable, are largely lacking in the uniqueness that makes Sorry such an interesting band. Furthermore, to finish the record they’ve stuck on a new version of “Lies”, which they’ve called a “refix” – but the single version was already a smasher that didn’t need fixing.

We can chalk these relatively minor missteps up to inexperience or over-excitement at finally releasing an album, and when you consider the heights that Sorry reach at points on 925 then it’s entirely forgivable. Overall, it would be hard to call 925 anything other than a great success, and one that should see Sorry’s star rise even higher – that’s if the public can get on board with their slightly unhinged view of things.  It’s unlikely that Sorry are going to be worrying too much about that though – the constantly creating band are probably already neck-deep in whatever they have in store next.

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