Sorority Noise — Joy, Departed

Emo is a funny word. For one, it seems like very few bands want the label associated with them. There isn’t really anything inherently bad about the subgenre, but it’s definitely something that bands seem to shy away from. Lead singers get funny when the e-word is brought up.

Maybe it’s because emo typically means sad, sappy music. And sad, sappy music often means immature music. And few bands are willing to embrace the “depressed high-schooler” vibe that emo carries with it so often. People want to be taken seriously, and nobody is going to wax poetic in Rolling Stone about some high school kid wallowing in his pain.

For all intents and purposes, Sorority Noise is an emo band. “I have no problem with people calling us that, because in the strictest of senses, we are an emotionally driven band,” says lead singer Cameron Boucher. He’s right. But if you’re the type to buy into stereotypes, you’re not giving Sorority Noise the credit they deserve, because Joy, Departed is not about a bunch of sad teenagers.

Your stereotypical emo album wallows, but Joy, Departed aspires.

That isn’t to say it’s a happy record. There’s still a strong emo stain here, and the album has its fair share of pain and heartache. But Sorority Noise separates themselves by having a determined outlook in spite of a troubled past or present.

“Blissth” opens the album softly:

“Let me be the drug
That you use to fall in love
The heroin that keeps you warm enough
Let me sink to your skin
Like water in a wound
Stitch me up when you are done”

The song eventually explodes into an empowering finale. It reminds me a lot of Noah And The Whale’s “Blue Skies” in the way that it’s bittersweet and sorrowful while still being hopeful and sending chills down your spine with uplifting riffs.

“Corrigan” is up next and continues the theme:

“I will never be the one you need
I only hope to be the solid ground beneath your feet
I will never be the turning of your leaves
I just hope to be the one you call when you can’t sleep”

The lead single, “Art School Wannabe”, shares the sentiment yet again. I don’t know if anti-emo is a genre, but this would be it. What if, maybe, things aren’t so bad after all?

“Maybe I’m my own greatest fear
maybe I’m just scared to admit that
I might not be as dark as I think
maybe I am not the person
that I never wanted to be”

I love how feisty this whole album is. Almost as if it’s saying Things aren’t great right now, but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let them stay that way. It just seems like an impressive and healthy way to frame depression and anger. I’ll admit to being much less positive and determined when ailed with the two.

Which brings us to the song that got me into Sorority Noise. “Using” is painful. It’s a roller coaster ride through the everyday battle that is depression. The constant cycle of losing and winning, failing and succeeding, falling and rising.

It charts defeat before proclaiming victory, guns blazing:

“I stopped wishing I was dead
Learned to love myself before anyone else
Become more than just a burden
I know I’m more than worthy of your time”

This is a product of Boucher, who — despite being diagnosed with manic depression — is incredibly admirable in his outlook on life. He spoke to Alt Press:

“The song “Using” is the first song I’ve ever written that I felt took a positive focus on my life. It allowed me to look back into my life and realize every issue and every struggle I’ve faced and express my realization that no matter how unbelievably terrible things are and how low you feel as a person, there is no greater idea than accepting yourself for what you are and doing your best to make a positive impact on the world you live in.”

Being sad is normal, but defeating sadness is really cool. And that’s what makes Joy, Departed different.