Sundara Karma – Youth is Only Fun in Retrospect

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When my friends start to learn about my taste in music, inevitably they come to the realization – “Li, you only listen to depressing shit.”

No, I protest, not I – I listen to not depressing shit occasionally. Yes, I went (and am debatably still going) through an emo phase, and yea so what if I regularly play Mitski and the Smiths, I still enjoy happy, upbeat music as much as the next person.

Despite this, I do know that I tend to listen to depressing shit so every so often I try to actively seek out not depressing shit to listen to for a change of pace. I had heard a lot of hype around Sundara Karma and their album Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect and was hoping that In Retrospect would be the not depressing or even – dare I say it – happy, tongue-in-cheek fix that its title suggests.

I tried to like this album. I really did. The album as a whole is optimistic and bright, as expected, but Sundara Karma’s sound lacks originality and seems to fall into indie band clichés. By the end of the album the upbeatness felt overly saccharine rather than endearing and the lyrics were cringeworthy (ex: “We’ll never see colour / if we live in black and white” (‘Be Nobody’)), preachy, and forced, with every song trying  to impart upon its listeners some deep moral lesson (ex: “We’ll be watching from great heights / And we’ll observe the things they hide / Fight the fear we keep inside / The more we seek the higher we’ll climb” (‘Such Great Heights’)). The album was saved by two tracks, ‘Flame’, a song drawing parallels between Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and our current sociopolitical climate, and ‘Happy Family’, which despite its name is described by the artists themselves as the saddest song on the record.

The takeaway? Even while searching for not depressing shit, I still end up finding the depressing shit. Let’s hope that next time goes better. 3/10

Highlights: Flame, Happy Family

Lowlights: Everything else

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