Sorry is a band from North London, consisting of five central members, Asha Lorenz on guitar and vocals, Louis O’Brien on guitar and vocals, Lincoln Barrett on drums, Campbell Baum on bass, and Marco Pini on electronics. They’ve come up in the scene with noisy contemporaries like black midi, Squid, and Black Country, New Road and have a sound that’s not quite like the aforementioned bands, but not UNLIKE them. I got to see Sorry live at the Doug Fir Lounge last week with Candy Cigarettes opening for them.
Candy Cigarettes is the solo project of Portland based songwriter Lane Mueller, who performed live with a fun experiential element, strumming guitar and backed by not only a propulsive instrumental track, but a video montage bordering on maximalist. Picture a YouTube deep dive when you’re in bed from work, sick and feverish and you’ve got a similar experience, images of Super Mario runs, Brisk Ice Tea commercials, and a water aerobics class synced up to the respective meter. The first half of the set started as a syrupy slide into a Britpop bath, hazy reverb washing over everyone in the audience. The second half was more in line with Candy Cigarettes’ latest album Horse Lungs, a chilling goth dalliance of synths and drum machine hits, like a Philip K. Dick novel come to life. A song like “Be Alright” is the first thing that comes to mind. Every so often Mueller would punctuate his sugary reverb soaked vocals with a screamed lyrical end cap, literally making people in the crowd (and me) jump from the surprise.
Now on to Sorry – although Asha Lorenz and Louis O’Brien are the principal songwriters and started out as childhood friends turned musical collaborators, Sorry works SO WELL as a live band and locked together in place as a dynamic driving unit from their first song to their last. The set kicked off with their haunting dance anthem, “Let the Lights On” and held course for the rest of the night. Sorry shows a certain level of songwriting which pairs hook-y melodies and danceable beats to acrid minor keys and biting lyrics, like on the songs “Snakes.” Then a song like “There’s So Many People That Want to Be Loved,” seems like it was pulled from the Randy Newman catalog, a light show tune dealing with unapologetically heavy themes. Although they have the conventions of a rock ‘n roll band, Sorry utilizes sampled vocals and eerie soundscapes to add another layer to their pop songwriting and Lorenz and O’Brien deftly trade verses like two MCs jumping around Barrett’s snare and hi hat. The one-two combo of a song like “Screaming in the Rain” followed by the song “Closer” epitomizes what makes Sorry so great as a live act.
The band has tried to shake off the terms post-punk, grunge, and shoegaze to describe their sound, as convenient as it is to use these terms in 2020s music journalism parlance. The fact that their latest album Anywhere But Here was recorded with Portishead’s Adrian Utley suggests some deeper sonic explorations for the band. Look no further than the early Sorry demos to see the through line of their left field experimentation and their fascination with trap, lo-fi hip hop, downtempo and UK jazz. Above all, Sorry is a band crafting interesting pop music pulling from a number of Internet age sources and I’m excited to see what they come up with next.
Sorry can be found @sorrybanduk on IG, on Bandcamp at https://sorrybanduk.bandcamp.com and on their website https://sorryband.co.uk for tour updates.
Candy Cigarettes can be found on Bandcamp at https://candycigsmusic.bandcamp.com.
Illustration by BB Andersson