Sundara Karma are by no means newcomers to the music scene, having written songs and toured for over three years. A New Year often means new paths. For the Reading quartet, their debut signifies a very promising year ahead.
Lead vocalist Oscar Lulu’s lyrics are smooth with a mature contemplative edge and coupled with the optimistic energy of the rest of the band, Sundara Karma put a dance-fuelled, 80s like twist on their brand of electro-alternative. The band’s chemistry from being together for such a long time span is out for all to see. Assured and collected vocals seep through on opening track ‘A Young Understanding’ and are a feature throughout notably on ‘Olympia’ where Lulu bemoans the frustration of ‘floating in a dead town’.
‘Happy Family’ is the LP’s pensive track for all of two minutes before Oscar purrs into life, ‘looking for a gold mine so we can get out’, eager to pursue the musical adventure of being a band’s lead singer. If ‘Happy Family’ is a slow burner, the album suddenly ignites with the openings of ‘Flame’. A euphoric, feel-good track that one imagines singing on a baking summer’s day, jubilantly swaying their arms in a packed festival crowd.
‘Lose the Feeling’ continues that trend, conveying the group’s evident appetite for producing tracks with anthemic choruses. It shows no signs of slowing down as ‘She Said’ bursts into tune, with all the gung-ho energy of a mid-album hit that has the makings of a rip-roaring opener.
After this escapade of excitement, the record takes a more thoughtful turn. ‘Vivienne’ details how ‘love and kindness, that’s both brutal and bleak’ as Lulu ‘would give it all just to stay with [her]. ‘Be Nobody’ demonstrates Sundara’s talent in penning thoughtful yet optimistic lyrics as ‘I found you and you found me and we’re happy with being nobody’. ‘Deep Relief’ is perhaps the most analytical and insightful track, Lulu advising that one to ‘take what you love and try to heal the things you hate’.
‘Watching from Great Heights’ almost envisions the promise Sundara Karma have ahead of them with ‘visions of the clear, the horizon edges near’. They are on the cusp of making it to the big time, in an industry that is notoriously unforgiving. Album closer ‘The Night’ encapsulates the record in many ways. It is buoyant in its sound yet maturely diplomatic in its lyrics.
Having just finished a US tour, they are about to embark on another supporting Two Door Cinema Club and with a headline show of their own later this year, great things lie ahead after a resoundingly successful debut album.