925, Sorry’s debut album, fights with dreamworlds and normalcy. Over its 13 tracks, the London quartet play with reality, time, and incongruity, and considering how early on into their career they are, they’ve done it so well.
Opening with the direct saxophone and bass riff of "Right Round the Clock", 925 immediately asserts itself with confidence. With a reference in the chorus to Tears For Fears’ "Mad World", "Right Round the Clock" carries an brooding air of self-confidence.
"In Unison" feels more subdued, almost shy, with Asha Lorenz’s gentle vocal unsure of itself in the song’s opening section. Over the course of the track, however, her vocal regains the previous confidence. An off-kilter bridge section does little more than just feel uneasy, and towards the end, it devolves into a confused muddle of sounds. This is all very in tune with the music Sorry have released up until now, so for a seasoned listener, nothing in this record will be surprised. Yet for those new to the band, the mismatch of sounds and rhythms could present a challenge.
Something Sorry have always done well is studio recordings. Although they aren’t disappointing live, not by any stretch of the word, their music does shine in their recordings. There’s something about the 'too cool to care' aura of the quartet that is most effective when in the medium that makes everything considered and purposeful. Bluntly, the cacophony of their music excels when it's clearly intentional.
"Starstruck", a 2018 single, appears mostly unchanged - there’s perhaps a louder bass in the opening section and chorus - but it all shines on the album as brightly as it did alone two years ago. With "Rosie", the band’s motif of dreamscape versus hellscape becomes clear, told through Lorenz’s trademark soft vocal and unnerving guitars. Lorenz details a “dream” that “carcinogenic whites fumed / people came right in / they stole things from my soul / I beat them to the ground / but it didn’t fill the hole”. These themes of reality and make-believe are woven throughout the record - perhaps most poignantly displayed through the spoken end section of "In Unison"; “Everybody dreams alone and it makes me cry”.
The constant struggle between what is real and what isn’t makes this record feel like a lucid dream. Lyrically, we’re tormented between the peace and nightmares, all made to feel even more real with the experimental, mismatching instrumentals that Sorry are so known for. Every track on this album feels solemn and unearthly.
The last half of the album is more downcast than the first, with tracks "As The Sun Sets", "Wolf", and "Heather" carrying a hefty gloom. "More", the second offering from the album, brings a tinge of life back into the record, propelling us into the closing two songs rather than just floating. Electronic beats drive the remixed version of "Lies" which closes the album, reminiscent of retro trip-hop.
925 is a record that knows what it wants to be and doesn’t struggle getting there. Whilst it might not be a sound or mood for every listener, it’s unashamedly experimental and woozy. There isn’t a bad track on this album.
The only reason 925 falls short of the perfect 10 is because there’s perhaps a drop too much of the same - if one or two tracks had a couple of melodies or instruments changed, the record would be outstanding. This is a confident, charismatic, too cool to care record from the London quartet, and it delights those looking for something different.