I don’t know if You’re Not As ____ As You Think counts as a big-scheme-of-things breakthrough record. I have no idea how many copies it will ultimately sell, and I even kinda doubt (because of pessimism) that it’ll connect with audiences beyond that one big tribe who defiantly embrace the oft-yet-needlessly-maligned designation of “emo.” But even if its big-scheme-of-things breakthrough status remains yet-to-be determined, the album certainly qualifies as a small-scheme-of-things breakthrough for its creators, Sorority Noise.
While 2015’s Joy, Departed lacked cohesiveness between uptempo, poppy-punky moments and markedly more somber tracks, it was a worthy showcase of Cameron Boucher’s incisive self-characterization and wordsmithery. (Example: We’ve all thought versions of the lyric “I’m not sure of anything in this world except I’m always wearing black and sleeping in,” from “Nolsey,” but Boucher should get all the credit for articulating it in a song.) The following year’s It Kindly Stopped For Me EP leaned harder into quiet introspection. A moron might describe the four-song collection as “low energy,” which would be both accurate and entirely missing the point. Consciously or unconsciously, You’re Not As ____ As You Think recognizes and corrects the connectivity problem immediately with “No Halo” — a damn fine and tidy meld of the Connecticut band’s hyperkinesia and rumination which once appeared more-or-less mutually exclusive.
Insomnia and survivor’s guilt diffuse all over You’re Not As ____ As You Think, and if those seem like odd themes to slam dance along to, well, I mean, I guess they are. But this oddness in no way prevented or hindered slam dances at the sold-out Sinclair on Friday (June 16).
I jotted down, “Lookitemgo! Wheeeeeee!” whilst looking down from the balcony during “Dirty Ickes” off the quartet’s 2014’s debut Forgettable. No mere four dudes with guitars and a drum kit could compete with the mobscene of joyful turbulence on the floor, but Sorority Noise did their damndest. Contemporary emo bands aren’t all famous for dynamic onstage personas, however Boucher, bassist Ryan McKenna, and guitarist/keyboardist Adam Ackerman leapt, twisted, and hotdogged in a manner entirely befitting their station. But never in unison. Synchronized jumping is one toy in the pop-punk sandbox Sorority Noise prefer not to play with, it seems.
Nor is between-song banter, for the most part. Boucher didn’t address the room until it came time to introduce “Using” toward the end of the set. He’s made a custom of briefly talking about his manic depressive tendencies before playing that song since quite a while ago.
“Fuck depression!” shouted one of rowdier, though obviously well-meaning audience members.
“Well, no, not ‘fuck depression,’” Boucher noted. To paraphrase his quick clarification (with some editorializing as a bonus) — conditions with potentially lifelong effects can’t be wished away with insolence or sloganeering, not even with a slogan that has a swear word in it and might look cool on t-shirt.
Out of the three opening acts, Philadelphia’s Shannen Moser stands as handedly the most memorable. Her thing is maybe 30 or 35 percent country, therefore she provided something a little different, even by the standards of acoustic singer-songwriters who routinely share bills with heavier guitar bands.
Barry Thompson is angry Sorority Noise didn’t play “Tiny Rick;” follow him on Twitter @barelytomson.