Released: 06/01/17 – 07/07/17

Country: UK

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I have wanted to write this review for a very long time. I have been listening to some of the songs in this album non-stop since I first discovered it a few months ago. The reason why I’ve decided to review this right now is that it was reuploaded with three more songs at the beginning of this month.

Youth is only ever fun in retrospect is the first album by Sundara Karma and it’s all about being young. Its tone is serious and fun at the same time, as the lyrics are deep and deal with heavy themes but the rhythm is fast-paced, light and quite uplifting. I feel like this is also a metaphor of how being young is: you start realising that the world is much rougher than you thought and you cope with it with a bit of fun.

The album is composed of 15 tracks and I must admit some of them sound similar and are less original than others but even so, I think that there are some great songs that make me not want to complain so much.

Happy Family is, in my opinion, the strongest track on the album and it’s become a special song to me. I like how it’s slower in the first verse and it builds up to a faster second verse and chorus. I empathise with the lyrics as they talk about family, hometown and the longing for “a gold mine / so we can get out”.

Vivienne is another song that I rate highly. It’s kind of stereotypical as it’s about the connection between romance and drugs. In a way, it reminds me of the movie from 2006 “Candy”, in which this roller-coaster love story kept having ups and downs. In the same way, this song starts really romantic (“Come on baby let’s feel alive / we could change the world / if we stopped getting high”) and ends on a darker note (“Like a child I cry, kiss it all goodbye / though I’ve grown I’m a mess”).

She Said is the first song that I heard from this album and that made me want to listen more. It explores the uncertainty and adventure of young love, predictable theme in this kind of album. What makes this song different is the antithesis in different verses of he/she to describe how the two involved in the relationship want different things, don’t really talk about it and end up not meeting up “‘Cause it doesn’t feel right”. This song is fast-paced and fun and at least in my opinion very relatable.

Flame is the most popular song of the album but it has less character than the ones I already talked about. It’s definitely catchy, especially the chorus which is easy to sing along with. This song also sounds approachable and easy to listen to. I have tried to figure out what it’s about and apparently it’s about Plato’s Allegory of the cave. In this allegory, prisoners of a cave only know reality through shadows that project on the walls. This song wants to compare this allegory with today’s world, where we believe and buy into all sorts of things that are presented to us. The seriousness of this theme is completely wiped out by how catchy and pop the song is, which spoils it a bit.

A Young Understanding is the opening track of the album. I haven’t listened to it as much as I think it’s quite repetitive and too slow. The whole song just sounds the same, the chorus doesn’t really stand out from the rest and the bridge doesn’t do a good job in bringing everything together.

Some other songs that I think have a lot of potential but could have been done a bit differently are Watching From Great Heights, Lose The Feeling and Olympia. The lyrics in them aren’t bad but the songs are either too slow or simply too similar to other ones in the album. I still listen to them and enjoy them, I just think they are weaker than the first ones I talked about.

All and all, I think this album is great and full of potential and can’t wait to hear more by Sundara Karma. As it’s only their first project I can understand the difficulty of creating something homogeneous but not repetitive. However, I think they made a great attempt at it and for this reason I rate this album highly and definitely recommend it.

Linda Arrighi

P.S. I am sorry I talked about the songs as if they were poems but that’s just how I see them.

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