Album Review: Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect, Sundara Karma

A debut album is a defining moment for a band, usually the make-or-break moment. It’s the bands chance to showcase their sound and show what the band is made of.

After 2 EP’s and 6 teaser singles throughout 2016, this all kept fans engaged and gave fans a true flavour of what to expect. Sundara Karma, the indie golden boys from Reading have finally released highly anticipated debut album, Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect. This album has redefined the expectations of a debut album. It’s class. Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect unveils Sundara Karma to the world but also summarises the highs and lows of growing up in 12 anthemic tracks. Consequently, making them this year’s leaders of the revival of the indie genre. Sundara Karma’s debut is filled with hit after hit and could even be called ‘arena ready’. It’s difficult to even think of where to start the review.


From the first track, A Young Understanding, a rip-roaring exploration of letting go and living life in the moment incorporates glorious hooks and it instantly makes you crave more. The album then moves towards fast-paced tracks which are full of energy and passion; Loveblood, Flame and Olympia. Flame has crunching yet muted guitar driving the song forward before Oscar’s vocals cut through bring the anthem home. These are simply tracks that are bound to make monumental live moments in headline shows and summer festivals that will live with fans forever.

The sombre Happy Family slows things down after the thrill that the album has produced so far; starting out as a ballad but ends up leading to a big crescendo with front-man Oscar’s vocals resonating to the very end. It digs deep into family heartbreak with unwavering honesty. It is the saddest moment on the record.


The record soon returns to the sound and energy that Sundara Karma are renowned for, with Lose the Feeling, She Said and Vivienne. She Said, a fan’s favourite, was released back in August. The catchiness of this track is the sort that would hook any audience no matter what era it was born in. She Said, is reminiscent of 90’s Britpop; a great chorus, a storyline and a drop of melancholy. Whilst also encompassing lively guitar riffs and gentle percussion into the heart of the track. Vivienne, an upbeat track about a man’s dedication to a woman. Vivienne featured on EP II and deserved a place on Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect due to it being one of the EP’s strongest songs.

Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect also brings some new tracks to the table. These include Be Nobody, Deep Relief and Watching from Great Heights. Be Nobody has a subdued feel, like Happy Family in tone but on the other hand, the lyrics try to paint a happier picture. Deep Relief, contrastingly is more upbeat with gentle but groovy drums at the foundation of this song and has a deeper meaning with dreams and desires at the heart. Watching from Great Heights, to me, is the best track on the record. With the classic Sundara Karma energy and sound and the instrumental with guitar riffs in the middle is the highlight of the record.

Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect is a stellar debut. It has combined the best of the current indie genre into a mix that gets listeners hooked from the first song. It’s torn the expectations for a debut album up, showing how Sundara Karma are the band to watch this year, with their headline show in January/February as well as a series of support dates with indie giants, Two Door Cinema Club. The sound which Oscar, Haydn, Ally and Dom have created in this album is first-rate and the album has started 2017 with a bang.

Album Rating: ★★★★

Find the full debut album below:




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