Fresh from a tour of the US with BBC Introducing, Reading four piece, Sundara Karma release an impressive flourish of indie pop with debut album, Youth Is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect.

The moment we press play we’re hit with the highly enigmatic ‘A Young Understanding’, an attention grasping track steeped in feel good melodies and soaring vocals. With the four-piece embarking on a headline tour in February following a January tour with Two Door Cinema Club, this album lends a number of anthemic hits, made to be played loud and raw to crowds a plenty.

Literary influences are plentiful, too. One in the form of ‘Loveblood’, as frontman Oscar Pollock attempts to personalise the essence of Oscar Wilde’s Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, a short story in which the main character learns that is his destiny to become a murderer before being married, ending with the revelation of the power of suggestion. This theme is juxtaposed with the light-hearted energy of the track that, on the surface, is a sweet yet powerful pop song. But notes of darkness can indeed be found among some of the lyrics – “Fated to kill the sweetest things” and “Walking along the razor’s edge”.

Another reference comes in ‘The Night’ – influenced by Pollock’s reading of Dracula at school, with explicit influences coming through lyrics like “A wild desire for the night // Honey I’m staying in the night, in the night”. Add a beautiful piece of guitar work, that comes to the forefront during an instrumental bridge, and you’ll find ‘The Night’ a hard track to pull away from.

Of course we can’t talk about YIOEFIR without mentioning ‘Flame’, undoubtedly the strongest track on the album. As well as just plainly being hot as hell, there’s an important message behind it. Pollock confronts consumer capitalism with reference to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, a theory of human perception, and knowledge through philosophical reasoning over passive observation. “Ever since I heard that story I thought it was crazy, especially how old and relevant it still is,” says Pollock. This song is about addressing obvious problems with a society blindly following the suggestion that we need the newest things to survive, that there’s “definitely some shady shit behind power”, that we need to engage more instead of living passively under such power.

Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect sees Sundara Karma explore their sound beyond sweet indie pop, not only offering great anthems, but sending a message, all while having the time of their lives, it seems. Energetic melodies highlight the retrospective fun of youth, serving as a soundtrack to memories of years since passed. Not to be missed, this is an essential album to kick start the new year.

Youth Is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect is out now via RCA.


By Samantha Mae

Twitter @samaanthamae