Sorry are chameleonic by design. Since they started putting out music a few years ago, they’ve flitted through a variety of styles, refusing to settle on one distinct sound. For me, they recall an era of music consumption less dominated by narrative. It’s not that they lack an identity, just that their identity feels malleable enough to adapt to pretty much anything, which allows them to play in a sandbox that feels like it has limitless potential. Listening to all of their songs in a row is akin to scrolling through a blog feed or letting YouTube run on autoplay for a couple hours — a mishmash of sounds from the last decade of internet-bred music.
The band began as a partnership between Asha Lorenz and Louis O’Bryen, who met when they were kids and started playing music with each other when they were teens. O’Bryen learned to play guitar when he was around 13 or 14, and Lorenz picked it up a bit earlier. Both found themselves gravitating away from rock music with age, towards making beats and, eventually, discovering ways of melding the two together into a stuttering and woozy scrawl. They linked up with their current bandmates, drummer Lincoln Barrett and bassist Campbell Baum, through the London show circuit, where Sorry are a fixture in the same clubs that host fellow UK upstarts like Shame and Goat Girl, among others.
It’s clear that they’re still figuring out what final form they want to take as a group. They’ve yet to put out a proper debut full-length — and won’t get around to piecing one together until later this summer — but the trail of breadcrumbs they’ve left behind suggests they have the chops to make something truly special.
Take Home Demo/ns Vol II. It’s the second entry in a mixtape series that they started last fall, and it’s their most cohesive release to date. But it’s also thrillingly restless and disjointed, a spontaneous blend of half-remembered ideas and surprisingly sturdy songs. There are some real gems in there, too — highlights include “Battles,” “Western” and “Lying Next To Me In Despair.” That they’re buried in an amniotic haze of beats and ambient noise only adds to their crate-digger appeal, like you just happened upon it while surfing the channels.
“It’s a quick way to put it all out there,” Lorenz says of the band’s unorthodox method of releasing mixtapes of rock demos. “We’re always writing stuff and sometimes we don’t want to wait to record.” O’Bryen adds: “It gives people a chance to learn a bit more about us and the band and our character. It’s a bit more personal.”
Those two mixtapes have been supplemented by a string of 7″‘s, released through Domino Records, that are meant to show off another side to the band. While the Home Demo/ns tapes are just Lorenz and O’Bryen messing around and seeing what sticks in a more low-key environment, the songs that they’ve been releasing on vinyl are a little more considered, and usually recorded in a proper studio. They’re the tracks that the band typically plays live. That’s evident in the extra muscle they gain from their bandmates — listen to the queasy “Lies” or the scorching “2 Down 2 Dance” and their knack for showmanship is apparent.
Their latest offerings, “Showgirl” and “Twinkle” (the latter is premiering above), are some of their best songs yet. They play like two sides of the same coin, ominous drawls that sound like those last few hours of the party, when you’re too faded to leave but too tired to think. “You are so dramatic/ And I’d love to flicker off with you,” Lorenz sings. While “Showgirl” was produced by Sean Oakley, who has worked with Frank Ocean and James Blake, “Twinkle” wasn’t even recorded in a studio, just at O’Bryen’s house. That you can hardly tell the difference is part of the point.
Where exactly Sorry will head next is a little fuzzy, and that’s exciting. Next on the horizon is their first album, though they admit they’re not super comfortable with the format yet. “We haven’t had time to sit down in a studio and figure out how to work it in that way,” O’Bryen says. They haven’t decided whether they’ll revamp songs from the mixtapes to put on the album, or whether they’ll record entirely new material altogether. It’ll be a learning process, for sure, but Sorry are proving that they’re good at thinking on their feet.
The “Showgirl” b/w “Twinkle” 7″ is out 6/22 via Domino. Pre-order it here.