While “Mean Nouns” is most likely the hippest song title of 2008, The Sort are probably not going to find themselves on the pages of Vice Magazine, sharing bills with Girl Talk, or partaking in any other cliché sponsored by American Apparel. Instead, the sound of the Richmond-based five-piece’s debut album, Resentment, Despair, & Other Amusements, hearkens back to the mid-90s, a time when girl-fronted bands were allowed to kick ass, a time when something had to be more than ironic to be cool, and a time when teen angst was shouted, not pouted.
Had The Sort come along about 13 years sooner front-woman Lauralam Thomas would’ve found herself alongside Kay Hanley and Juliana Hatfield as a princess of Power Pop. With a voice that ranges from playfully innocent to sassily sensual and a knack for endearingly simplistic bubblegum coated sentiment (“Imperfect perfection when he looks in my direction,” “It’s not enough to feel the world in art,” or “I saw special things beaten to the ground.”); she’s all any adolescent girl could hope to grow up to be.
The majority of (and most impressive portion of) Resentment, Despair, & Other Amusements has the band sounding like theSTART after having their synths jacked, while tracks like “Remnants” and “Valedictorian” would’ve fit perfectly on the Empire Records soundtrack. The only downfall of The Sort’s debut is that it is occasionally bogged down with generic radio rock riffage that has them sounding like a band that Maynard James Keenan would be in.
In a time when there doesn’t seem to be room for anything resembling conventional rock songwriting and musicianship, it’s hard to say what’s in store for The Sort, short of crossing their fingers for Veruca Salt’s next album to go platinum and need a support band for the tour. If only it were 1995 The Sort would be dominating MTV’s Alternative Nation and teenage girls across the country would have “He gives me his heart in hopes it won’t get ripped apart,” scrawled onto the covers of their Social Studies textbooks.— Izzy Cihak