Singer/guitarist Carmen Perry not concerned with sounding pretty on Ohio expats' new album, 'Slow Buzz'
When Remember Sports, which formerly existed under the less search-engine-friendly moniker Sports, started work on its sophomore album, All of Something, from 2015, there was a sense it was going to be the band's swan song.
“[The recording sessions] were bittersweet. None of us were sure what we were going to do, and a lot of the press around that album was like, ‘Oh, they're broken up,'” said singer/guitarist Carmen Perry of the band, which formed as a four-piece while attending Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, and neared its anticipated end date as the musicians approached graduation. “We didn't know what was going to happen. Benji (Dossetter), who used to be our drummer, he always knew he was going to medical school. And James (Karlin), who used to play bass, lives on the West Coast now. So it was like, ‘OK, well, they're definitely out.”
Rather than folding, however, Perry, guitarist Jack Washburn and bassist Catherine Dwyer all relocated to Philadelphia following graduation, recruiting drummer Connor Perry to complete the lineup and continuing on under a slightly altered name and with a new record, Slow Buzz, released last year, that grows and expands on the group's earnest, adrenalized, melodic indie-rock sound.
Fittingly, at times it feels like Perry's words on Slow Buzz are chronicling this period of upheaval and transition as the players move from college life to young adulthood. “Am I regressing or growing up?” she asks fitfully on one song.
“I think a lot of the reason why I started writing music in the first place was to work through things that I don't really know how to work through,” Perry said. “I guess feeling lost and feeling at a crossroads — those sorts of themes you hear in our music — I guess those were the things I needed help with at the time.”
But a majority of the album more loosely documents an unraveling relationship, Perry singing of compartmentalized feelings; distant, furtive glances, and thorough emotional purges. Rather than simply casting blame, the singer acknowledges her own missteps throughout: “My conscious is anything but clear,” she offers on “Making It Right.” She also refrains from tacking on a happy ending. Instead, the album concludes with “Unwell,” on which Perry wakes up following a late-night fight expecting closure only to learn her ex has already departed. “Maybe all of this is written exactly as it should be,” she surmises.
“There's no finite ending. It's just making things fit in a new way,” Perry said. “That's what I was thinking about in writing all of this.”
The album is complex, messy, heartbreaking and weirdly invigorating, and Perry sings every word as if it was recorded at the height of these emotional peaks, her voice often cracking and breaking to mirror the anger, frustration and desperation threading through the songs — an approach the singer has gradually come to embrace through the years.
“I did a lot of musical theater as a kid, which is pretty embarrassing, but I don't think I was ever that good at it because I didn't have that classic kind of voice people are looking for, and that always used to make me sad,” Perry said. “But I think that what I've found through the years is my voice does weird things, at times, and it sounds different. And I've learned to lean into that more. … Now, I like when my voice sounds weird or bad, and I write with that in mind. I don't want to sound pretty.”