Although Sorry are anything but famous, the British duo party like bonafide rock stars throughout their debut album 925. The tales that Asha Lorenz and Louis O’Bryen tell on these 13 songs are often so skeevy they veer on locker-room talk, but underneath all the stories of sex, drugs and glamour, irony abounds. Lorenz and O’Bryen know full well they haven’t come anywhere close to being the drug-addled, constantly-fucking celebrities of their fantasies, and they transform the gap between their modest reality and their vainglorious narratives into pure entertainment via some of the most jagged, scuffed, uncompromisingly gritty rock music out there today.
The squalor is clear from the start. Opener “Right Round the Clock” is a queasy jolt of piano and squawking brass with lyrics describing a woman who “rolls around with an entourage / She’s all dolled up like a movie star / With those flash-flash eyes from behind the bar / With those ‘fuck me’ eyes.” Even if the language runs laps around the dictionary definition of misogyny, it’s clear that Lorenz and O’Bryen are playing a game of imagination via music that straddles a bizarre line between art-pop and garage rock.
Lorenz and O’Bryen navigate the boundary between the conceptual and the gritty throughout 925. On “Starstruck,” they dabble in galloping guitars and cigarette-busted vocal harmonies while leering at drug-loving poets and angry man-babies. Throughout “More,” they fuse the seemingly opposed genres of grunge and brat-pop as Lorenz details a delirious night out with such banal yet undeniably fun lyrics as “I want drugs and drugs and drugs” and “All the blood goes to my stomach / I might stumble / I might vomit.” “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” opens with an almost blues-country sound before swelling into a trot of overdrive and bile, a startling arrangement as uneasy as Lorenz’s story: “I stayed up all night with a rock ‘n’ roll star… We fucked all night / Stayed up late / Felt my assets fall away.”
925’s most hedonistic narratives might be cause for condemnation, but let’s not cancel Sorry yet—the album’s more grounded poems suggest that the band are perceptive enough to render their loftiest tales with scorn. Lorenz reminisces on a crush so strong it turned into anxiety atop the monotonous but menacing desert rock of “Snakes,” and that’s something to which the non-famous can certainly relate. Lorenz and O’Bryen sigh lovelorn lines on “Perfect,” which recounts a romantic fallout for which the narrator is willing to admit fault and accept their partner potentially leaving. Even if the lyrics are about as clever as a Super Bowl commercial, the situation is thoroughly believable, and the sixteenth-note power-chord racket is riveting. As Lorenz mumbles about her lost love atop the jittery dissonance of “Ode to Boy,” she gets vulnerable and shows her faults: She can’t quite become one of the “adults” who “seem to do things that work.”
One track later, 925 comes to a close with “Lies (Refix).” Lorenz and O’Bryen sound at the end of their rope here, their voices only occasionally exiting the whisper range as they describe a strong attraction that’s nevertheless clearly wrong over a malaise-stricken assortment of drum machines and creaky synths and guitars. “If I could I wished / I was just someone else to you,” they sing together, and this desire to transform, whether intentionally or not, evokes their obsession with the performative rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. In Sorry’s world, there’s no distinguishing between the everyday and the glamorous.