Reading’s quartet Sundara Karma have been drawing a lot of attention with their catchy new album “Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect”. They sit in an unexplored valley somewhere between The 1975 and Two Door Cinema Club. The release provides a nice way to escape all the annoying cheer of the holidays and make a stark return back to the real world.
The composition is, for the most part, solid throughout. There’s some great guitar work that acts to support and uplift the lyrics rather than drown them out. A base line keeps things consistent, while a distorted guitar plays above, keeping it upbeat and providing emphasis where needed. While it is a solid album, we would have loved to see them explore a bit more, and assert some creative freedoms. We see this with the vocals, but not in the composure itself. “Flame” was the only track that caught us off guard, in a wonderful way. It tweaks their proven formula just enough to make your head pop up, pulling you back out of the trance of monotony.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/297255674″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
Sundara Karma‘s “Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect” leaves a bit to be desired, but it’s a fair attempt for a freshman release.
Lyrics-wise, there are some tracks that blow you away, while others make you wonder if the same writers really were responsible for the entire album. Sundara Karma starts off strong, the compelling “A Young Understanding” describing the naivety that comes with a youthful need for blind acceptance. The follow-up, “Loveblood”, is more of a sung poem than anything else, but fits the group’s style nicely. Lines like, “Fortune brought me lovers, shadow taro colors, Fated to kill the sweetest things, One by one” bring forth possible allusions to Romeo and Juliet, the classic twisted love story all young lovers are forced to digest.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/280002444″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
Around the second half of the album, things start to degrade, however. While I enjoyed the change in pace “Flame”’s soundscape offered, the lyrics are not up to par. A good two-thirds of the track are simply, “Hold my flame and set alight, Hold my fire screaming inside” repeated over and over again. The album comes to a close on a particularly poor note, with a decisively unimaginative take on the light and dark theme: “Honey I’m staying in the night, I can see your darkness in the light”.
Sundara Karma drew some eyes with their early 2017 release. The 47-minute album gives a distinct impression that their music was written for the stage. If they can bring the same energy to a live performance, Sundara Karma would be a joy to see up in the spotlight. “Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect,” however leaves a bit to be desired, but it’s a fair attempt for a freshman release. Keep your eyes open for take number two.