Das Einkleben der Sammelbilder mit Platten aus den letzten Jahrzehnten kostet so viel Zeit, dass ich hier noch kein Album des Jahrgangs 2017 vorgestellt habe. Aber jetzt ist Schluss mit Retrospektive vergangener Großtaten! Kommen wir zu „Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect“, dem Debütalbum eines Quartetts aus Reading, bei dessen Namen man zunächst Schlimmes befürchten könnte. Aber obwohl Sundara Karma sich bei der Namensfindung dem Sanskrit zuwendeten, lassen sie, anders als Kula Shaker, Instrumente wie Sarod, Tabla oder Tamboura unangerührt.
From the off, the rip-roaring "A Young Understanding" is a whirlwind of exploration with hard-hitting hooks that fans will instantly devour, and recent single "Olympia" is a fine showcase of frontman Oscar Lulu's searing vocals bursting with accomplished energy.
Fan favourites "She Said" and "Vivienne" make an appearance too, the former being one of the Reading quartet's most gripping singles to date, while "Happy Family" slots into place with a gripping melody at the album's core. The track was one of the most moving moments on the band's first EP, and their softer side is definitely one to acquaint yourself with.
(The Line Of Best Fit)
Recent single ‘She Said’, while still undoubtedly the record’s standout moment, is something of a curveball when placed in the middle, its textbook-perfect pilfering of 90s Britpop (storytelling, great chorus, smidgen of melancholy) a clever contrast to the rest, which owes much to Arcade Fire’s ‘Neon Bible’ era, if not also The National.
This is most evident in the driving rhythm of ‘Loveblood’, though opener ‘A Young Understanding’ and the quietly epic final number ‘The Night’ also warrant particular note. Crossing over with that are nods to Kings of Leon, when being neither rock ’n’ roll nor stadium egotists, with the Americana stomp of the curious beast of a track ‘Happy Family’ and the bleak ‘Be Nobody’.
On the whole, these touchstones are not necessarily those of Sundara Karma’s peers: there’s a more subtle, grower-like infectiousness to their songs that has echoes of later Maccabees - and with that band bowing out, that’s one crown 2017 may well have heading these Reading boys’ way.
Their music groans with inevitability, with the Killers’ pious preachery, and the chugging earnestness of clean-shaven-era Kings of Leon. Frontman Oscar Pollock’s voice is a passionate yet juddering nasal union of the Maccabees’ Orlando Weeks and Starsailor’s James Walsh. Their lyrics indulge in the sort of social commentary the 1975 would probably relegate to the draft folder (“Wild eyes, skinny jeans, disengaged at just 19”). The highlight is Flame, a send up of consumer capitalism: funky and Foals-like, with icy production; a song placed in the middle of an album that glides rather than fights its way into the future.