April 25, 2016

TEST SPINS: Sorority Noise, It Kindly Stopped For Me

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We all know what it’s like to look at ourselves in the bathroom mirror of Loco or Level B and think that maybe we’ve had too much to drink but that, despite our blurred eyes, we know we’ll make it home (with or without our “fracket”). Sorority Noise knows what that’s like too. Ironically, the four male band mates are neither Cornell students nor sorority members, but they capture, in their new EP It Kindly Stopped for Me, the walk home from Collegetown on Friday night — or, more likely, Saturday morning.

Despite the album cover’s beachy dune, the vocalist’s footsteps in “Fource” tread upon a crumbling sidewalk rather than sinking into pillow-soft sand. The walker may even be trudging up hill from Level B to CTP. Starting with “Fource,” the album soberly tells a story of drunken honesty. The sound of the speaker’s shoes upon the pavement sets the mundane melody of the track as the singer imperfectly voices his thoughts. His consciousness is, at once, cohesive and mindless. With the way the music matches the lyrics, the album moves from 2 a.m. drunken destitution in “Fource” to the forgiveness and resolve of Sunday morning with “Either Way.” As Sorority Noise ends the third track with the words, “Today was an off day. I’ve had a few,” the album begins its gradual and undulating upward climb. Despite “Fource” being track three, the way I hear it, it belongs as track one. With “Fource” followed by “A Will,” “XC” and, finally, “Either Way,” the album passes from 2 a.m. to 2 p.m. It Kindly Stopped for Me echoes our own consciousness — from the drunken words we don’t remember to the insecure thoughts we resist revealing.



My analysis takes the album out of order and reassembles it into a story that better fits an optimistic mindset. Instead of starting with quiet, reassuring sympathy and then moving to dizzying doubt, my track list starts with a low and moves steadily upward. And, despite its disregard for Kurt Vonnegut’s Man-in-hole model, the order in which I listened to the album makes for a pleasant, stress-less experience. The vocalist, instead, begins in a hole. He begins at the bottom of Collegetown — the part of our trek where we first feel the cold of Ithaca’s early morning bite away the remaining heat from Level B’s crowded dance floor. As the singer climbs the road toward CTP or CTB, he rises from his nadir toward home and the music flows from sadness to an easy hope. The melody in “A Will” gives both vocalist and walker the intention to keep moving forward. The combination of guitar and piano in “Either Way” assures us that regardless of our decision to cut through the Engineering School or continue up Ho Plaza, we’ll make it back home.

In the end, It Kindly Stopped for Me makes us wish we brought headphones out when we headed to Collegetown for the night. The album captures, through music, lyrics and speech, the struggle of moving on from a low — a physical one, an emotional one or a drunken one. In our lives now, It Kindly Stopped for Me reminisces the breaking dawn in Collegetown after a long day of Libe coffee and a longer night of fishbowls. But, I’m convinced, by the nuanced nostalgia in their tone and humanness in their compassion, Sorority Noise sings to a larger audience. It Kindly Stopped for Me is an album we’ll return to again and again, maybe to remember our time here at Cornell, or, instead, to feel understood once more in a different way, place and situation. The album transcends time through its artful ambiguity. The flow of each track takes on the listener’s mood and mindset through its beautiful honesty. Despite the order in which the tracks play, the album conveys a calming and continuous sympathy. As the piano, guitar and steps on gravel pavement move the lyrics forward, we’re reminded of the endurance of both our own flaws and promises. Like the sound of rain in the background of “Fource,” we’re convinced by the speaker’s words that the storm will pass and the clouds will clear. Sorority Noise, through their blunt sincerity, recognize all that they themselves and their audience lack, each in our own way, and sings despite these pitfalls. Sorority Noise “sees a chance” and “takes it.”  Their album succeeds in making us feel human, lifting us up, taking us home and tucking us in — with the same care as only the best roommates.

Julia Curley is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].