Sorority Noise frontman Cameron Boucher states in his band’s bio that he doesn’t “want to be in an emo band anymore,” but has “no problem with people calling us that, because in the strictest of senses, we are an emotionally driven band.” Dissecting emo in any capacity is not for the weak at heart, given how devoted and fierce that genre’s often young fans can be; after all, Pete Wentz is an asshole, but his lyrical footwork is still legendary to followers of the Fall Out Boy camp.
Sorority Noise’s ties to unabashedly screamo act Old Gray are not a mystery, and the band members dabble in jazz instrumentation and cozy pop music metaphors about addiction. The Connecticut outfit sounds like a less abrasive, more enlightened version of The Front Bottoms, and their sophomore effort does what their otherwise touching 22-minute debut, Forgettable, could not: distance itself from a genre they no longer needed.
Joy, Departed is longer, stronger, and sounds like a more professional latter-day Manic Street Preachers in places where it counts. Opener “Blissth” glows with an early-oughts sheen reminiscent of pre-Bleed American Jimmy Eat World. That’s immediately followed by “Corrigan”, which proves that the Forgettable sound was neither fluke nor finite. Standout tracks “Fluorescent Black” and “Nolsey” let Charlie Singer’s marching percussion ring alongside dual guitars that scream triumph like fresh faces at a Warped Tour headliner — the latter dressed up as Weezer for Halloween, the former Band Of Horses-esque.
Sorority Noise explores the entire scope of alternative pop without exhausting it (or themselves). They’re quirky when necessary (“Art School Wannabe”, “Mononokay”), skillfully dark elsewhere (“Your Soft Blood”, “Fuchsia”), and lace punk riffs throughout. Sorority Noise is neither lyrically nor sonically over-polished, a badge of honor for anyone in their musical wheelhouse.
I have always thought of pop punk as a misnomer; pop and punk were, by definition, contradictory. To me, bands like Green Day should be considered pop rock rather than punk. And that’s okay, because they still rock the fuck out. Sorority Noise, on the other hand, rocks out quietly, pensively, with strains of folksy pop and eager punk that can defy stereotypes, pissed off and in love at the same time.
Essential Tracks: “Art School Wannabe”, “Fluorescent Black”, and “Nolsey”