NPR’s All Songs Considered debut’s “Sorry, Not Sorry” from Sydney Eloise and the Palms

Sydney Eloise and the Palms Atlanta faces indie rock BABY robot media

Fifties girl group crooning and echo chamber drums. Sixties wall of sound. Seventies California canyon sway. Eighties laser-sharp production. Nineties alt-country twang. Aughts vocal callbacks from Neko Case to Jenny Lewis to Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast. Such is the stylistic chronology of indie-pop outfit Sydney Eloise & The Palms, whose latest single, premiering here, cherry-picks from 50 years of influences.

“Sorry, Not Sorry” has an unmistakably millennial title, but every note of it nods to predecessors. And with decades of backup, what could have been a flippant, hashtag-ready kissoff sounds instead like a rich, substantial reflection on getting out from under a bad situation.

Frontwoman Sydney Eloise said in an email that she wrote the song trying to maintain some dignity in the end of a relationship:

It may seem like a song of rebuttal, retaliation or revenge, but really “Sorry, Not Sorry” is me putting my hands up — getting to that point of numbness in a relationship where you can no longer carry another person’s emotions on your back … For me, this song is about reaching that moment where I had to stop thinking about this other person’s feelings because it was time to acknowledge my own. Like, “sorry this may hurt, but I’m not sorry for speaking my truth.”

Her low voice, indulging in few flourishes, flirts with nonchalance in the same way Cosentino’s does. Yet hearing this song that way would miss its affecting lyrics and the band’s fearlessness in casting a wide and sometimes contradictory net of references. “Sorry, Not Sorry” came from a numb, disconnected place, but it’s got a half-century of heart. LISTEN HERE…

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