The Mic headed down to Leicester to catch alt-rock quartet Sorry ahead of the release of their debut record and a string of summer festival dates.
On the brink of releasing their debut album, 925, Sorry are very much a band going places. Once-feted as being part of the same London scene that birthed acts such as Shame, Goat Girl and HMLTD, they’re cut from the same art-school cloth, and have the same air of post-cultural nouse about them.
Signed to Domino and held in near-universal regard by the tastemakers of the indie moment, you can’t help but feel that they’re on the brink of breaking into the mainstream, whatever that means anymore.
Their stock-in-trade are pop songs, albeit a warped, millennial take on them. Only a hop, skip and jump from HMLTD’s off-kilter bangers but possessed of far more sensitive songwriting, they’ve had a Midas touch as of late; every one of the singles trailing their album has been an unabashed earworm. Starstruck has been co-signed by Matty Healy (make of that what you will), and More, Rock 'n' Roll Star and Right Round The Clock have all been met with acclaim, finding themselves on many a radio playlist.
Their sound is – at first glance at least – guitar-based, but principally Sorry concern themselves with hooks and will deploy anything in their arsenal in doing so, memorably including a saxophone on more than one occasion. They’re entirely uninterested by the post-punk of the moment and its aversion to a proper pop chorus. They also relish dealing with subjects via the lens of cultural references, with Right Round The Clock casually tossing in a Mad World interpolation without so much as a stutter.
'You can’t help but feel that they’re on the brink of breaking into the mainstream, whatever that means anymore. Their stock-in-trade are pop songs, albeit a warped, millennial take on them'.
Which brings us to The Cookie, Leicester’s foremost indie venue, on a particularly rainy and grey Tuesday evening. The basement had filled up nicely, and Sorry cut quite the imposing, painfully fashionable figures on The Cookie’s cramped stage. With little to no interaction between songs, lead singer Asha Lorenz isn’t the typical frontwoman. It’s less an impression of nervousness that you get, rather one of disinterest – it’s very easy to arrive at the conclusion that this is, to some degree, child’s play for her. Louis O’Bryen provides backing vocals and lead guitar, and their songwriting partnership is the beating heart of Sorry. Live, the guitars are very much front and centre in the mix, lending the set a centre comprised of Asha and Louis’ duelling leads. Elsewhere, there are synths and samples from
Marco, drums from Lincoln, and sometime-bass, sometime-saxophone courtesy of Campbell.
The set was essentially a tour de force of their output thus far, with Lies providing the most emotive high. Notably absent were early singles Showgirl and 2 Down 2 Dance, making way for cuts from 925. Many of the songs here lose their pop sheen in a live setting and easily veer into grunge territory; Wished has a real edge to it, and Lies’ chorus verges on anthemic, if it were dressed slightly differently. They’re frankly a baffling band to write about as it’s so difficult to pin them down to any one sound. I think the effect the set had on me was mostly an ominous one – these tracks have a dark edge to them. Obvious comparisons can be drawn to early Wolf Alice, but I think they lack the romanticism and rose tint that Wolf Alice possess; millennial cynicism runs through this set like words through Blackpool Rock.
'With little to no interaction between songs, lead singer Asha Lorenz isn’t the typical frontwoman. It’s less an impression of nervousness that you get, rather one of disinterest'.
All in all, Sorry are a compelling proposition live. They’re a problem to be solved, and the tension procured by this is magnetic. However, they lack the immediacy of so many of their contemporaries, and this has the unfortunate effect of making their set slightly forgettable in places. Perhaps if the buzz around them had been slightly less, or if the room had been slightly more energetic, it could’ve been a quite different beast. Sorry simply provide the hits – what you make of them is up to you. I think they’re ready for the big festival dates that await them come the summer, but the question is more if they can prove themselves enough of a draw to warrant stages that size.