Growing up is hard…so why not write an album about it?
At least that’s what seems to have been the thought process of Reading-based indie four-piece Sundara Karma, who released their debut studio album, ‘Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect’ last week. Drawn to our attention in 2014 having toured the country with Swim Deep, it seems like an age since the drop of their first EP, ‘Indigo Puff’ in the same year, but boy oh boy, has it been worth the wait.
Narrating a coming-of-age story, blending a mix of love and heartbreak, highs and lows, the album fittingly opens with previous single and feel good indie classic, ‘A Young Understanding’. Warning of the trials and tribulations ahead, frontman Oscar Lulu sings “Hold on tight // you’ve got a way to go” before the drums build dramatically and break into the smooth vocals and upbeat rhythm of the chorus. Merging seamlessly into ‘Loveblood’, a non-stop dance tune, the optimistic tone of the record continues, before the start of more cautionary, yet equally catchy ‘Olympia’. The tender opening guitar notes of ‘Happy Family’ evoke nostalgic childhood memories of warm days and long summers, before the snappy, retro-sounding intro of eighties inspired ‘Flame’ picks up the pace of earlier tracks.
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Contrasting the traditional, upbeat nature of ‘Vivienne’, a song of love and longing, and ‘She Said’, an anthem for the free spirited and fun, the presence of brand new, laid back tunes ‘Deep Relief’ and ‘Lose the Feeling’ provide a fresh insight into the band’s less energetic, more intimate sound, a side to the group which we have seen little of previously. However, it’s ‘Be Nobody’ that really tugs on the heartstrings. Conveying feelings of teenage infatuation and first love, the lyrics “But I found you // and you found me // and we’re happy being nobody” hark back to a time where happiness was infinite and it felt as if everything had fallen into place.
‘Watching from Great Heights’, is the perfect track for summer days. Lyrics “we’ll observe the things they hide // fight the fear we keep inside // the more we seek the higher we’ll climb” accurately narrate the age when you knew everything, and watched with unprecedented wisdom as other people made the same mistakes that you made before.
Although we’ve waited a hell of a long time for it, ‘Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect’ perfectly narrates the roller coaster ride that is adolescence, and couldn’t be more relate-able if it tried.
‘Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect’ is out now via Chess Club Records