A little more than five years, four friends in their mid-teens formed Sundara Karma. Methodically and patiently, they developed their sound, polished their live shows, and started making waves outside their hometown of Reading. Their single, “Flame”, put them on nearly every music tastemaster’s radar, including our own. Their complete package of anthemic, ’90s-inspired pop-rock, thoughtful storytelling, and frenetic live shows made them one of our artists to watch in 2016. And so far, the year has been great for Sundara Karma. Their popularity has skyrocketed in the UK and beyond. They signed with Sony Music to distribute their music in North America, and they are preparing to release their debut full-length in the new year.
Next week, the quartet will embark on their first US tour. To generate further buzz for the band’s arrival, Sundara Karma have shared a new EP, Loveblood. The five-song record possesses everything that has helped the group’s popularity increase five-fold (or more). The EP explodes with the blistering, glam rock-infused title track, which is just brilliant. The song is a demonstration of masterful song building, as within four minutes the song has no fewer than three arcs.
Unlike many young bands (they are still in their teens), Sundara Karma’s songwriting is a huge strength. Led by frontman and principal writer Oscar Pollock, their songs are often stories about real or fictional characters as oppose to the introspective and first-person approach taken by other artists. The combination of “Olympia” and “She Said” evidences their approach. Beneath a cinematic, synth-driven melody, the former follows the exploits a young woman seeking redemption. The latter is a groovy, danceable spectacle that tells the tale of a couple headed in opposite directions. There is an air of an ’80s coming-of-age movie, where the woman wants to go dancing to forget about her worries while the man chooses to go drinking with his buddies.
It is on “A Young Understanding”, though, where Sundara Karma channel the energy and euphoric qualities of “Flame”. The music is dizzying, as the crushing rhythms and the sparking synths drive the tempo and melody. Lyrically, the song is the for a generation of young people finding their ways in this complicated world, reminiscent of O.M.D.’s “If You Leave” in its effect.
Similarly, “The Night” belongs on a coming-of-age film, echoing the great soundtrack songs of the mid-’80s. While the tempo has been slowed down, the infectious and anthemic qualities remain while an extra layer of dazzling lushness is added. Images of the great on-screen couples reuniting at the end of the movie come flooding into one’s mind. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan (from When Harry Met Sally). Matthew Broderick and Mia Sara (from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). Pretty soon, Sundara Karma will reach the same levels in popularity as these names. Super-stardom is on the horizon, and Loveblood is the next stepping stone in the journey.
The EP is out now on Sony Music but in the USA only via iTunes. The record, however, is available on SoundCloud (if you have a GO account) and only the single is on Spotify. Fans overseas won’t have to wait long for new material, as Sundara Karma’s debut, full-length album, Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect, will be released on January 6th via Sony Music and Chess Club.
For those in the US, the band will be performing a handful of shows, beginning Monday, November 14th in New York. Check their website for dates and details.
Featured photo by Tom Oxley
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