Anywhere But Here review | Sorry at their most accessible

Londoners Sorry manage to cast a wider net on their latest album, Anywhere But Here, whilst preserving all their best esoteric elements.

Sorry

There’s a moment nearly midway through Sorry’s latest album, on the track ‘There’s So Many People That Just Want To Be Loved’, where you feel held emotionally, cradled like a child. It’s the product of listening to a band with a deep assurance of themselves as lead singer Asha Lorenz gently repeats the title and informs us, “I’ve been working things out, I’ve been slaving away”.

Indeed, it’s been two years since the release of their last album, 925, a brilliant, discordant mix of experimental indie grunge. The band had said a year ago they were looking to make an album “that’s more accessible to more people”.

And that’s precisely where we find them on their latest endeavour – a mission accomplished in that sense – yet they’ve retained the slightly off-kilter, anxiety-laden aura of their debut. This was never going to be a middle-of-the-road guitar record. Sorry, you are far too interesting for that.

Sorry

Photo: Felix Bayley-Higgins

In many ways, this curious North London outfit might have been ahead of their time, having grown from – and been a driving force in – London’s underground scene. That might sound like a funny thing to say given their still relatively fresh; but after the 2022 indie wave that’s rallied around the likes of Wet Leg and Fontaines D.C. (both produced by the prolific Dan Carey), you’d hope Sorry would have similar traction.

It’s encouraging, therefore, to see them with a 2022 album of their own. Album opener ‘Let The Lights On’ begins with a smattering of guitar feedback, but what follows is an easy-to-follow post-punk love song, with lines like, “I love you, I wanna tell you I love you cause I love you / I wanna look back and you look too” .

Moreover, the band have worked with a vital producer for this record: Bristol-based Ali Chant. In promo ahead of the album’s release, Lorenz has said the recording of this album was carried out slightly differently from their previous, with Sorry opting for “more of a live band process” – a method taken right from Carey and his label Speedy Wunderground’s production handbook. Chant has captured similar quality here.

A brilliant live, almost murky sound is captured distinctly on tracks ‘Tell Me’, ‘Hem Of The Fray’ and ‘Screaming In The Rain’, for instance – the latter opening with guitarist-come-vocalist Louis O’Bryen’s dulcet singing, perfectly complementing long-time bandmate Lorenz’s vocals.

Also embodied is a sense of restless agitation that comes with living in a city like London. ‘Key To The City’, a track already released – billed as “a kind of tender ‘fuck you’ at the dying moment of a relationship you don’t necessarily want to end” – ties the image of turbulent romance with the metropolis.

Sorry have more to say than most about the capital, having risen from its underbelly through venues Brixton’s Windmill, along with the likes of Goat Girl and Black Midi. Marco Pini, the band’s keys player, for instance, is one of the founders of tastemaker label Slow Dance, which has helped find and nurture some genuinely compelling acts in London and put them on at events – to give you an indication of how embedded in the city’s culture they are, and the sort of circles they operate in.

There’s another city that features on their new album, on the track ‘Baltimore’ – although it captures the same sense of unease as being in any other, with the self-reflective refrain: “Now I don’t feel myself / But you never feel yourself” . Very different to Nina Simone’s track of the same name – with sparse piano and steady, shimmying drums building into a more raucous, guitar-heavy finish – it still offers a similar message. Ain’t it hard just to live?

Baltimore wasn’t on the list of cities the band played as part of their tour of the States earlier this year, supporting Sleaford Mods. Still, you can imagine them stopping off in the city between their penultimate and final show – Boston and Washington, respectively – and Lorenz penning the melancholic number in the Maryland seaport city, overlooking its watery surroundings.

Asha Lorenz

Photo: Iris Luz

Yet no matter where you are and where you’ve come from, there’s a creeping sense you’re never actually going anywhere. This sentiment is most felt on ‘Closer’, which reels off being “Closer to the aether / Closer to the worms / Closer to the cancer / Closer to the womb / Closer to my mother / Closer to my friends” in such a depleted tone that feels as though you’re in fact further away than ever.

That may be, but in this more open, more accessible sophomore album, we do indeed feel as close to Sorry as we ever had whilst recognising what we already admired in them before.


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