16 Jan 2017

Sundara Karma / Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect (album review)

Champions of the festival circuit in the Summer of 2016, Sundara Karma found themselves standing pretty high before their debut had even seen the light of day. With major indie titans such as Peace and Wolf Alice away working on their own records, now is as good a chance as any to seize the throne.

The claims to the indie throne are laid down firm on track Loveblood, which shows Sundara Karma at their shimmering best, centred around a huge chorus it’s a feisty and formidable statement. Standout track on the record Flame’s tinny guitar tones resemble that of early Peace and packs a meaty chorus that chugs. On She Said they reach a lowkey lyrical high with gems such as “he cut his heart out to be cool/'cos everybody loves a criminal”. It’s simplistic but the bare bones dedication to delivering on the chorus pays off and provides an instant banger.

On Be Nobody the four-pieces' attempt at a ‘Glastonbury moment’ is cemented as the swooning vocals and echoing guitars command friends to take to one and others shoulders and outstretch their arms to the heavens.

Great moments on the album are more few and far between apart from the standout tracks. The record draws to a close with The Night as it peters out with a guitar solo so flat you could rest your brew on it. As previously mentioned the success of Sundara Karma rides on a simple formula of big choruses and whilst this does make for some enjoyable moments there’s just simply not enough there to deliver throughout the whole record. It’s a record that will no doubt see them become a festival hit and I don’t doubt their anthemic tunes will carry them far but the wistful whimpers and sweet nothings grow tiresome . This coming of age record takes it’s toll, come the end of the 47 minute chorus orgy I’d grown a full beard, taken the posters down that adorn my bedroom wall and started drinking craft beer.

Sadly lack of identity is ultimately Sundara Karma’s downfall, in an oversaturated market of landfill indie there’s nothing to set them apart. Even centerpiece Oscar Lulu’s seductive baritone loses it’s charm and initial excitement. Throughout the record I find myself noticing influences from The Maccabees to Mona but for a debut album there’s a significant lack of personality. The title of the record ends up being an ironic by the end, there’s a whole lot of retrospect but it’s about as progressive as post-Brexit Britain.


(Words: Jack Winstanley)