The downer London band share the inspirations behind five songs on their killer debut
In Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, a manic depressive played by Kirsten Dunst takes comfort in the prospect of apocalypse, as a ‘rogue planet’ charts a collision course with Earth and everyone around her starts to lose their minds. There’s a touch of that spirit to the debut album from Sorry, the north London band centred around songwriting duo Asha Lorenz and Louis O’Bryen. 925 is music for high-functioning depressives, combining the sly pop smarts of Blur at their smackiest with the post-grunge pop of Cat Power and the post-everything pop of Dean Blunt without bothering to paper over the cracks – in fact, the cracks are kind of the whole point.
But the whole is held together by a strange glue, finding beauty in a world their generation finds itself increasingly locked out from: on the tentatively anthemic “Ode to Boy”, Lorenz composes an “ode for joy ’cause there is no joy”, and on “As the Sun Sets”, she sounds aglow with longing, like she’s got her face pressed up against the glass of a happier existence. On “In Unison”, she spits a line that, just a few short weeks ago, must have seemed a bleak nod to the trials of atomised 21st century life – “Everybody dreams alone, on their own, privately / in unison.” Flip the line on its head, though, and you can hear a note of frustrated optimism struggling to get free: what if, from all this solitude, something shared might begin to emerge?
Here, Lorenz and O’Bryen share some of the inspirations behind the songs on their record.
“ODE TO BOY”
Asha Lorenz: This song was off the first mixtape. We revamped it for the album; we wanted it to play on the fact that it’s a knock-off of “Ode to Joy”. It sounds like a churchy choir song that you might sing at school. The lyrics are quite paternal and religious and also about innocence and love – it’s about protecting, really. We recorded a children’s choir singing the song and Campbell (Baum, bassist) played the organ.
Louis O’Bryen: We recorded the choir in a school hall in Highgate and then finished in James (Dring, producer)’s studio where we tried a lot of different glitchy sounds and effects to add over Campbell’s organ and the choir. We wanted the choir and their voices to mimic the childlike lyrics and innocence of the song.
“AS THE SUN SETS”
Asha Lorenz: This was one of the first newer songs (we wrote) that we knew we wanted to put on the album. We started at Asha’s with Louis producing and it was an overwhelmingly sweaty day. The lyrics were more of a string-of-consciousness and Louis and I worked quite quickly. It all flowed naturally and made sense; it felt like a cathartic song quite early on. The build-up bit in the middle and other parts of the song that make it bigger were added by Campbell Baum and Lincoln Barrett when we started playing it as a live band. Once it had developed for a while as a live song we then went into the studio to record it live. Finally, we took it to James Dring and together we merged the live song with the more ‘samply’ sounds we had made at home.
Louis O’Bryen: It reminds me of a hot summer’s day coming to an end, this one. It’s one of my favourites from the album and some of my favourite lyrics by Asha – it always makes me feel a little sad, but content. The electronic snare in it is a fave of mine, and adds to the weird, slightly apocalyptic feel of the tune – it sounds like a crow’s squawk. We also added loads of ethereal drone sounds to add to that feeling. We started this song on my computer at Asha’s house, making the bare bones of the tune with the weird sounds and snare, building it one part at a time, then took it to James who brought it to life.
Asha Lorenz: This is one of the lighter songs on the album. It’s a love song that’s more inspired by old crooner-esque artists like Tony Bennett. At the same time, we also wanted to make a Beatles-like showtune arrangement. For some reason it took the longest to finish because there was always a drum-pattern or one note that we wanted to change to make it perfect.
Louis O’Bryen: “Heather” is another of my favourites, and also a newer song on the album. Asha came to my house after she’d been on holiday with the first idea, then we built it (up) a bit at mine on the computer, adding the chorus and the horns, and then we took it to James. The chorus was an extension of that first idea of an old crooner-y love song, with the horns adding to that idea. We were always proud of this song, as I think it’s put together well and this makes me happy. It always reminds me of “Michelle” by The Beatles, for some reason.
Louis O’Bryen: “Perfect” is a very old song, one that’s close to the band’s heart, and one we’ve fallen in and out of love with many times. I wrote that first guitar part trying to replicate something like “Nude as the News” by Cat Power. We recorded a very old version at Asha’s and then it became a faster, more rocky live song, so it’s been through many different forms. I like it on the album as it’s energetic and picks things up a bit.
Louis O’Bryen: This our marching band song, and a nice song to get into the album with, after “Right Round the Clock”.
Asha Lorenz: It’s quite a weird song. I tried to write it as though it was from an otherworldly character perspective looking in on humans, or perhaps someone in your head. It’s more based around phrases we use; it’s about trying to translate an idea. The drop is apocalyptic and every turn in the song makes you sink a bit lower into it. It started as a demo that we tried out live as a band before recording it. We also got a violin player to play on it so it didn’t sound too programmed. When we were working on it at home Louis thought it would be cool to add the ‘this is a demo’ voice, like Radiohead. ‘This is a demo’ is just what it said on their website but we thought it was cool so used it.