Sundara Karma: Youth is Only ever Fun in Retrospect

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Credit to Sian Howells

Immediate connections may be drawn to the 1975 in terms of album titles of questionable necessity. In a way this indie kinda cool image establishes the precedent for much of the album.

Fans of Sundara Karma will recognise much of the tracklist here, with favourites like ‘Vivienne’, ‘Flame’ and ‘Loveblood’ all making an appearance. The recurring sonic themes at play are the classic euphoric indie anthems, most notable in ‘Loveblood’. Though that is not to say ‘Youth…’ isn’t without a touch of the melancholy, ‘Be Nobody’ does this in a surprisingly subtle way, considering some of the predictability present in other tracks. One line in particular struck me, “All the kids are ravers, because the church is now the club” it’s quite a succinct way to highlight the obvious change in youth culture in the last few generations. Still, moments like this are rare. Which isn’t to say it’s terrible though.

As familiar as some songs may feel, such is the formula of much popular music, there is definitely a stamp of personality here; most of which emanates from front-man Oscar Pollock. Take one look at him and you might suspect some falsetto woolly nonsense for singing but his voice is one of the most compelling elements of Sundara Karma. It’s a strange, androgynous machismo, at ease with itself all the same.

The success these guys have experienced since I had the opportunity to meet them a couple of years ago is starkly apparent. Even in terms of Manchester venues, they have gone from the hipster basement-under-the-cafe Soup Kitchen, to the comparatively cavernous Albert Hall. This album I think, regardless of any review, will further this success to much greater heights. This is quite a recent phenomena, indeed another indie outfit VANT are due to (at the time of writing) release their debut effort soon, the tracklist for which will be recognisable to most fans. It’s how to gain a following the modern way. The relentless touring gives way to songs being adopted by the fans, who love it all the more once it is recorded and released as a single. The albums themselves now resemble a greatest hits, albeit an early years greatest hits, peppered with new additions that almost act as treats for the fans rather than the meat on the bone.

Perhaps this is why magazines like NME, DIY and Clash, all rated this album highly, whilst the Guardian essentially told it where to go…The album is the end of Sundara Karma Phase One, if we’re going by the Marvel business model, and the start of a new cycle. The album itself is passable to my ears but my ears don’t matter. That’s the point. Sundara Karma have found their sound, their caveat and will continue to great success with a snowballing fanbase regardless of what any major newspaper will say. This album is almost a badge of honour for the now family-like indie touring circuit, a product of years of writing and touring.

Perhaps the best thing about this album is that it’s an incredibly well marketed, grassroots product, the music itself is, well, fine…