Review: Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect by Sundara Karma

by Angela Brooks

Sundara Karma has already achieved quite a large following in the U.K. and played some legendary festivals, like Reading & Leeds. They’ve been together since 14 years old, so it’s surprising Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect is their debut.

They released some EPs that contained much of the album’s content that garnered some success stateside. Their song “Flame” has almost 3 million plays on Spotify, well deserved, too. It really showcases Oscar Lulu’s vocal range, which stylistically reminds me of a young Brandon Flowers (R.I.P. early 2000’s Killer’s albums). So success is something Sundara Karma is starting to get used to.

While it’s easy a young band to write songs solely based on sex and drugs, they have a deeper perspective. They’ve said that “Flame” is a song “commenting on the reality that we find ourselves living in where politicians, the war on drugs, terrorism, consumerism, mass production, celebrity culture, social networks etc. are the shadows that permeate our walls – and we all buy into it”. That’s definitely an issue today.

Lulu sings the ghostly chords of a lost lover, but writes lyrics as the confident 21 year-old he is. The tracks begs you to sing along as loud as you can, only to feel the soul-crushing disappointment when you can’t come anywhere close to the vocal range of Lulu. Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect is an impressive collection of everything from dance rock, to emotional ballads, and will be tough to top as the best debut album of 2017. It’s early, but they’ve set the bar high.


Standout Tracks

“She Said”
This is one of the first songs the band released. It’s such a fun tune to dance to, after all the chorus does say, “She said I don’t want to go out chasin’ I kinda wanna go out dancing.” So, good job on that.

This track has a different vibe from the rest of the album. There’s a breakdown of heavy breathing as Dom Cordell comes out of nowhere and lays down a smooth bass solo in the middle of the song. The contrast with this part is unusual compared to the rest of the song, but it works so well.