REVIEW: Sundara Karma – Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect

"Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect." Photo via:

The Band: Sundara Karma is a group of long-haired vegans and vegetarians from Reading, UK. They jokingly refer to themselves as “Geek Chic,” but anyone else would just call them chic. Made up of Oscar Pollock, Haydn Evans, Ally Baty and Dom Cordell, they have been playing music together since they were 14. Now 21, their hard work is starting to pay off. Before releasing an album they’ve already played Reading Festival, a huge UK music festival headlined by the likes of Bastille and Disclosure. They gained initial notoriety from their now signature cover of Luther Vandross’ “Never Too Much”.

The Album: “Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect” is the group’s debut album, containing a handful of previously released singles as well as a smattering of fresh content. The title comes from a lyric in the song “Deep Relief,” which was the last song to be finished for the record. The album is all about looking back and recognizing that it’s hard to appreciate life in the moment, yet you end up being nostalgic over moments you didn’t think you would cherish.

The Sound: Pollock describes their sound as “a healthy blend of depth and shallowness.” Many of Sundara Karma’s musical offerings are passionate, high-energy indie rock. On the one hand, songs like “Loveblood,” “Flame,” and “She Said” are so carefree and energetic that it proves difficult to remain stationary while listening. On the other, Sundara Karma is exceptional at making emotionally-intense, deliberate, brooding tunes such as “Be Nobody.” Lyrically, their songs are very emotive, however the band doesn’t like to dwell much on the specific meanings behind their songs. They love to hear how people interpret the lyrics, but don’t want listeners to get bogged down in shaping their listening experience around the intended meaning. One of the few songs that they have shared details about is “Flame,” which was inspired by Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.”

Is It for Me?: Sundara Karma is fairly inoffensive and upbeat, meaning there’s little to dislike. They are frequently compared to Arcade Fire and Bruce Springsteen due to their stadium sing-along energy. This year they are on tour supporting Two Door Cinema Club, who carry a similar energy.

Final Thoughts: After three EP’s the band has finally released the album their fans have been waiting for. Sundara Karma is just a few years away from drawing a massive crowd at the Glastonbury performance that they so desperately look forward to. Until then, I’m going to go buy a copy of the record so they can all move out of their mums’ houses. 8.5/10