Hi all, kaia here, it’s been an INCREDIBLY long time since I wrote for this wonderful blog; I’d like to say I have a good reason for this, but I’ve literally just been procrastinating (I promise I’ll do better!). However, my love for all things indie remains, and I’m back with the pleasure of reviewing one of my favourite band’s new albums released on the 6th, Youth is only ever fun in retrospect by the brilliant Sundara Karma.
The album begins with the classic Sundara anthem, A Young Understanding. Although perhaps considered ‘mainstream’, as it was released as a single and helped the band rise to fame, this song will always be one of my favourites by the boys, as it was the first I ever heard of them and my most memorable live experience. Besides this, the song itself is all-round perfection – singer Oscar Pollocks rousing way of singing, his incredible vocal range, the togetherness and tightness of the band itself, not to mention the almost relatable lyrics; this song is the perfect familiar start to the album.
The track list then moves on to another familiar face; Loveblood. As Clash magazine once wrote, ‘Sundara Karma arrive with choruses built for arenas’ and Loveblood is this quote personified. This is my real dancing song, perfect for any occasion with anyone, and the riff in the chorus is almost contagious. It reminds me of the summer and it’s a seriously feel-good anthem.
The third song on this album, and personally one of my favourites, is Olympia. This song begins a bit subtler than the other singles Sundara have released, but throughout the song, layers upon layers of sound are created and, in their amazingly unique way, ends full of harmonies, drum rolls and guitar riffs. Again, I praise Oscar so highly for his voice in this one; you can’t help but relate to his soulful and heartfelt singing (the chorus starting, ‘And oh lord, is heaven such a fine thing?’, gets me wailing along every time).
Next comes a song which I think, musically is a masterpiece. Happy family; although far from what I imagine when I think of Sundara Karma, this song reflects their versatile nature as a band and expresses their talent not only in indie pop but also more folky soft music. This song reminds me of Ben Howard or Mumford and Sons, which I never thought I would be saying with regards to Sundara, but it is a welcome asset to their discography. I also really love the lyrics of this song, because they question our acceptances in our modern society – ‘The news that’s on the screen, it’s all violence, heartbreak and misery’ – I’ve always loved the boys ethically minded approach to lyrics, and this is no exception.
The fifth song on Youth is only Ever fun in Retrospect is definitely one you’ll have heard before; first released in November 2016, Flame is the work of only a true lyrical genius and it shows the bands immense intelligence and wit through their words. You cannot help but sing when the chorus kicks in, and seriously, witnessing the crowds reaction to this song live is like nothing ive experienced before. Referencing Plato’s cave analogy, a key part of philosophical history, whilst creating honestly one of the most artistic music videos I have seen in a long time is no mean feat. I will always love this one.
This next song, Lose the feeling, almost reminds me of 80s/90s popular group REM. It has almost the same riff throughout the instrumental sections of the song as is found in REM’s ‘Losing my religion’, but with a modern twist and revitalised lyrics. I really like the airy and carefree tones in the verse of this one, although it isn’t my favourite on the album its nice to see the boys experimenting with new sounds and ideas.
Seventh on the track list is another of the songs I just cannot avoid dancing to. ‘She said’, with its faster pace and heavier chorus reminds me of everything I love about this band – they don’t try to conform or adhere to ‘popular’ culture, and this really comes across in this song, as they experiment with heavier bass and guitar and, in my opinion, come out with an amazing end product. As usual, I cannot fault their lyrics, with modern and current issues being addressed creatively, is there NOTHING the boys cannot do?!
‘Vivienne’, the next song to feature on Youth is only ever fun in Retrospect, is my motivation song – if I ever need a little pick-me-up this one does it for me. It’s got the angst, the emotion and the love without being cringey, which is a breath of fresh air in the modern age of extremely cliché love songs. It’s the sort of song that if it caught you at the right time might make you shed a tear or two, but could also make you get up, sing your heart out and feel ready to face the day; this is the reason I love it.
The next song, ‘Be Nobody’ begins with extremely 80s vibes with synthesiser sounds and effects on the singer’s vocals, is another surprising experiment on the album, but one which I embrace with open arms as I love the obvious hard work that’s gone into making such a short song have such an impact. I also love the hard-hitting lyrics surrounding religion (as a keen philosophy student, music and philosophy colliding is what I live for), with lyrics such as, ‘there’s nothing in the devil, nothing in the sin’, its all I could ask for in a song.
‘Deep Relief’ is another of my favourites from this album, reminding me a bit of the strokes’ Liztomania but maintaining Sundara’s amazing vocal range and lyrical genius. I can really picture this one on the stage (soon to be more than just a picture as I see them live in London in February!!) and I think its contagious chorus once again works its magic and entices the listener.
The penultimate song of the album, ‘Watching from Great Heights’, upon first listening, gave me so many different feelings it was kind of overwhelming, but I really really love it and it kind of reflects to me how far the boys have come in the past year. It’s got a real feel-good factor and I can just tell it’s going to be one of my favourite songs of the year.
The album ends on a slower track, ‘The Night’, which really rounds off the whole rollarcoaster of an album. I love the emotion behind Oscar’s voice in this one, you really get an idea of what the album has meant to them, and how much effort has gone into it, on all of their behalves. It’s slow and melodic feel seems a fitting ending for the record, and hints at a lot more to come from this incredible band.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post, I just had to express my love and admiration for the band and I know this is a platform where like-minded people can also appreciate this amazing music.
Until next time,