Sorority Noise Joy, Departed on LP
“I don’t want to be in an emo band anymore,” proclaims Sorority Noise frontman Cameron Boucher. “But I have no problem with people calling us that, because in the strictest of senses, we are an emotionally driven band.” That, is Sorority Noise in a nutshell: part of a movement, but also discrete and determined to break free from the pack. Truth be told, the Connecticut-based quartet - Boucher, guitarist/vocalist Adam “Scuff” Ackerman, bassist/vocalist Ryan McKenna and drummer Charlie Singer - have always operated a little differently than most of their peers.
For starters, Boucher attends the University of Hartford for jazz saxophone and music production, while guitarist Ackerman studies acoustic and upright bass. But it’s not just their unorthodox musical chops that set the band apart in the underground punk scene. With the release of their Topshelf Records debut, Joy, Departed, Sorority Noise is poised to break out in a big way.
It’s clear from the opening track, “Blissth,” which creaks and swells like the best of Brand New’s softer side; the buoyant energy and self-reflection of first single “Art School Wannabe,” featuring Modern Baseball’s Jake Ewald; the Pinkerton-era Weezer stomp of “Nolsey;” and the heartbreaking, album-closing “When I See You (Timberwolf).”
Joy, Departed is more than just the best iteration of Sorority Noise to date; the album also marks a creative shift for Boucher, who draws musical influence from a diverse crop of acts spanning Regina Spektor and jazz trumpeter Chet Baker to The Smiths and Broken Social Scene - and previously spent time fronting screamo band Old Gray.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Joy, Departed is Boucher’s candidness, addressing heavy lyrical topics some of his peers wouldn’t dream of covering. Look no further than “When I See You (Timberwolf),” which paints the forlorn portrait of a close friend spiraling through the throes of addiction, a situation Boucher saw manifest itself in his own life.
That’s ultimately what makes Joy, Departed such an important album: It’s life, warts and all, sung by someone who’s experienced it firsthand. It’s not always rosy, but it’s real. Above all, it’s an album meant to be experienced as a body of work, not single songs plucked piecemeal or shuffled on a streaming service. And for Boucher, he hopes it will show critics and fans alike Sorority Noise has something to say.
“The pomp and circumstance that comes with the bastardization of depression in emo music — the entire song broken into one lyric, into one Tumblr post, and having that represent the band? I don’t want that,” Boucher concludes. “I want someone to put on a whole record and connect to it that way. I don’t intend to write a line that’s a tattoo lyric or something that could be deciphered easily. The emo culture has a tendency to adapt itself to that, and I want to be more than that.”