REVIEW: Sorority Noise – ‘Joy, Departed’

sorority-noise-joy-departed

Artist: Sorority Noise
Album: Joy, Departed
Genre: Emo, Garage Rock
Label: Topshelf Records

Joy, Departed doesn’t sound like a Sorority Noise record, and that’s a good thing. The band’s debut record–the aptly titled Forgettable–is a fun listen with little substance beyond a few catchy choruses and well-written one-liner lyrics. Where Forgettable serves as the polar opposite to vocalist Cam Boucher’s dark and moody other band, Old Gray, Joy, Departed falls somewhere between the two, with a darker lyric focus, but remaining traces of the cynical sense of humor found on the band’s debut. The result is a fantastic, yet slightly unpolished emo release that dynamically blends all ends of the genre’s wide spectrum of sounds and some of the genre’s most impressive lyrics.

The album starts off strong with two of the its best tracks, which can be viewed together as a relatively seamless opener. After track one, “Blissth,” which introduces the musical and lyrical themes that occupy the album’s best tracks, and “Corrigan” which has some of the record’s most quotable one-liners, infectious guitar lines, and a guest vocal spot from Modern Baseball’s Brendan Lukens, Joy, Departed hits sort of a dry spell with a few questionable track listing decisions. While both songs are impressive in their own right, “Fluorescent Black” and “Nosley” don’t adequately show off the record’s admirable sense of sonic diversity within the first five songs, and I often find myself skipping both tracks and the moody, surprisingly heavy album highlight “Your Soft Blood” just to get to the second half of the record.

Side B of the album, however, proves the record’s phenomenal worth and sets it apart from nearly every other album in the over-crowded emo genre. “Mononokay” immediately caught my attention on first listen due to its progressive view on mental health issues; vocalist Cam Boucher admits over a catchy, Pinkerton-esque instrumental, “I’ve tried to rid myself of my anxious tendency / but I have to accept my head for what it is to me.”

“Using” is a contender for best song of the year, using a vitriolic sense of humor to look at several deeply private thoughts, such as a reliance on drugs to escape depression and the fear of falling in love while in a highly depressed state of mind. The song’s chorus is the definitive high point of the record, as the band hits full garage-rock mode and Boucher shouts, “I stopped wishing I was dead and learned to love myself before anyone else / become more than just a burden, I know I’m more than worthy of your time.” The delivery in this song, as well as the fantastic, upbeat “Art School Wannabe” is on par with that of Max Bemis circa …Is A Real Boy, with a contradictory sense of what Boucher is saying and how he’s saying it. These moments, abundant in “Art School Wannabe” through “Mononokay,” give a glimpse of Sorority Noise at their best. This excellent sequence of songs makes the middle section of the record (the aforementioned sequence featuring “Fluorescent Black,” “Nosley,” and “Your Soft Blood”) seem boring in comparison, although the songs themselves are quite impressive taken out of context.

Joy, Departed is a wonderful record with some of the year’s most memorable moments from the emo genre. Sorority Noise is onto something incredible here, between their unique sense of musicianship that shines in the record’s impressive guitar work and the progressive discussion of important mental health issues; with Joy, Departed, Sorority Noise never glorify depression as many of their emo contemporaries have been known to do, and instead talk about the benefits of seeking mental counseling and getting better. These unmatched qualities show Sorority Noise doing something different and impressive with Joy, Departed, that’s held back minimally by lackluster production value on a few tracks and a questionable track order. However, given the immense growth between records that Sorority Noise has already shown, no one should be surprised if they continue to grow to be one of the most important bands in this music community.

SCORE: 8.75/10
Review written by John Bazley

John Bazley

John Bazley was raised in central New Jersey by the romantic aura of the Asbury Park beachfront, punk rock, and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4. He is still trying to figure all of this stuff out.

In addition to UTG, John has contributed to Alternative Press and Full Frequency Media. Follow him on Twitter for pictures of his dog.
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