It’s difficult to mind our friends, while minding ourselves. For Sorority Noise, You’re Not As ______ As You Think is a thirty-minute exploration into the impact that mental illness can have on sufferers, and the people that love them.
It’s a difficult subject to tackle, particularly over the course of such a short record. Something of a follow-on from 2016’s Kindly Stopped For Me EP, based on the experience of a friend passing away, the album has worthy ambitions but does not give itself the space to follow through.
The danger of broaching topics such as death and depression can be seen in the opening song ‘No Halo,’ a narrative about the potential envy of being the one to stay and pick up the pieces once a friend is gone.
You’re Not As _____ As You Think does attempt to build up a framework of events leading to tragedy, but ‘A Portrait Of’ – with a reference to the band The Gaslight Anthem and drinking beer – feels more like a diatribe on dismal nights out, even if darker tones are brought in. These heavier elements include a monologue of feeling like you need to die that is slipped under unnervingly triumphant guitar and drum beats, until the vocals turn to shouting to ensure that this despair is the theme to be heard.
Perhaps the reason for the record’s brevity is that it centres on sadness, an emotion that could become overwhelming were the album to move past thirty minutes. ‘First Letter from St. Sean’ and ‘A Better Sun’ provide a commentary on bad decisions, and finds themselves primarily stripped down from the soft rock infusions of earlier songs. ‘Disappeared’ and ‘Car,’ meanwhile, contain the unnerving lyrics “lost a basketball team to heaven” and “my friends are dying faster than I possibly can,” respectively.
‘Where Are You,” takes the tack that friends may have died, but their memories live on – it’s a message that seems redundant in a record dedicated to memorialising.
This changes in ‘Second Letter from St. Julien,’ which turns inward, focusing on the anxieties that are all too easy to find ourselves fixating on. Finishing on a lo-fi number, ‘New Room’ is a mournful song about being expected to give someone what they need in order to fix themselves. It’s a fitting finish, as it refuses to indulge in blame – instead, merely reflecting the events as they happened, finishing the account that this album tries to create.