With every month of prolonging the long awaited release of “Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect” the hopes rose beyond measure. Longing for an LP since the release of EP1 in early 2015, the craving was getting unbearable. But obviously they proved themselves and at least since the 6th of January 2017 nobody can deny that Sundara Karma can’t help but exceed the expectations.
Every inch of the record has been optimized, from the smooth transition of “A Young Understanding“ into “Loveblood“ (both being divinely gripping and vigorous tracks) leading into the record, to closing the album with a slightly remastered version of one of their oldest tracks “The Night“. Showing off all of the qualities and characteristics they have maintained and developed over the years, such as the dark and arcane lyrics accompanied by dazzling melodies and bold vocals. The only bummer really is that quite a number of songs had already been previously released. Fan favourite from EP2 “Vivienne” for example. It wouldn’t have hurt replacing it with a newer, unknown song but regardless it adds well to the album and is for sure a gem under the Sundara Karma classics.
Stand out track from the record for me is definitely “Olympia”. If all of the fervour and sensitivity you’ve ever felt could be summarized in one song it would most likely be this one and that’s what makes it my quite possibly favourite song of all time. Based on the painting “Olympia“ by Manet, it tells us about a french women living in the 19th century named Olympia, described through the eyes of one of the many lovers she had. Referring to her as “Modern Venus“, a hint to “Venus of Urbino“ by Titian (the painting „Olympia“ is originally based on), shows once again the ingenuity Sundara Karma coat their lyrics in.
The album title is surely something you can argue about. As youth can be just as pleasant or rough as any other time in your life it came off a bit unfortunately worded to me at first, but after revealing it being more about the “Tragedy of Living“ in general, meaning not being able to truly enjoy a moment once you live it but appreciating it when looking back, and not merely about youth in particular, it clearly suits the recondite elements of the band. Perhaps “A Young Understanding“ would have been a better fit since the same-titled song portrays youth with a dash of naivety as well as escapism, and by this resembles some of the main topics their music revolves around but hey at least they didn’t self-title their debut album!
With so far unreleased track and a favourite of mine “Lose The Feeling“ they prove what they do best: wrapping profound lyrics into catchy melodies, distinguished by easing guitar play, sounding oh so familiar. The piece deals with the constant search of the meaning of life, hoping to find enlightenment while recognizing that salvation will never be reached and knowing that satisfaction in this conflict is only a brief pleasure.
Inspired by Lama Marut’s book “Be Nobody“ is a reflection on society and describing the transition of beliefs over the decades (”All the kids are ravers ’cause the church is now the club“). It is against our nature to constantly try to top everybody else by aiming to be more special, successful or beautiful. Instead of living to be the ‘pure’ version of us we pretend to be something we’re not and want to be more than we really are. Everybody is unique but “the problem is that we’re never content with just being special” (-Lama Marut). Only by being nobody we are ever truly ourselves.
“Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect” is a doozy debut album in all its facets, triggering every possible emotion throughout, from ecstasy to woe, and it can only indicate of what they are capable of. There’s no way around Sundara Karma’s enchanting hymns, so prepare yourself because they will surely build up to be an important voice of this generation.
Check out Olympia here: https://soundcloud.com/sundara-karma/olympia-1