After two critically acclaimed albums, Reading indie-pop band Sundara Karma have released their new EP Kill Me. Here's the verdict.
Sundara Karma formed in Reading at the beginning of the 2010s and released their first and only two albums to date at the backend of the decade. Youth Is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect was the debut in 2017. 'Flame' and 'She Said' were two big indie singles from it and they should have been the catalyst to me becoming a fan there and then, but I didn’t really give the rest of their stuff a chance in truth.
Ulfilas’ Alphabet was their second offering and came out in March 2019 to critical acclaim. It was this record that finally piqued my interest. 'One Last Night On This Earth' was a brilliant single and tracks like 'The Changeover' and 'Little Smart Houses' really showed off the potential they possess to become one of the leaders in the UK alternative scene.
Only a few months after this release and myself newly converted, I saw them headline the O2 Academy stage of Live at Leeds 2019 with three other friends. One of my group was a fan of theirs from album one and had already seen them live, another was also a fan whilst the other had never heard of them.
All four of us enjoyed their performance though and agreed that they were very impressive live. One of the aforementioned friends who was a fan of them from day dot recently sent me a text informing me that Sundara had released a new EP, called Kill Me, on November 24th 2020.
He had already listened to it and claimed it was a “bit of a mix up” which intrigued me. I had to don my headphones to give it a try... 'Song one of Kill Me' is the title track and it has an urgency that leaves you in no doubt that they were desperate to share this new project with everyone. It has a drum-heavy sound and it’s one where you can easily envisage a live audience loving it. The beat is quick with a tirade of lyrics sang in a speedy flow that is very satisfying to sing along to. Lyrically it’s my favourite song of this five-track EP, with one verse including:
“You seem awfully impressive
Dare I say progressive
Wanna come back to my place
And I’ll prove I’m a real miss
Drowning in distress
Probably drivin’ a Prius
Hoping no one will see us”
Next up was 'O’ Stranger' and within the first few seconds you realise it is going to be a new direction for them. With heavy use of auto-tune and glitchy sounds it is a left turn for the band but they utilise them well. The chorus is mature and reminded a little bit of an Imagine Dragons song that I can’t quite recall. Top marks for experimentation here.
Then in came track three 'YOUR TOUCH' which is a nice listen. I’ve always thought lead singer Oscar Pollock’s vocal delivery was reminiscent of David Bowie’s in parts and this is the best example of this on the EP. Although it is therefore not a fully unique voice, it is a naturally compelling one. A backing vocal part of what sounds like 'Share my feelings' is quite catchy too. The track is quite 80s pop instrumentally and is pretty groovy. That said, at over five minutes long is does perhaps overstay its welcome.
Penultimate song “Artifice” has a calming, almost hypnotic instrumental start. In comes a slow chorus that brings back the vocal manipulation from earlier, and it actually sounds pretty cool again. I'd say it’s only a pleasant song though and isn’t that moreish. It does up the tempo towards the end which was welcomed but it doesn’t really excite me much this one.
Closing track 'Lifelines' is OK. Despite some impressive vocals, the track was a bit of a shoulder shrug in all honesty. The final verse & outro is decent in fairness. The last lyric is a deep line where Pollock comes to a conclusion on his train of thought:
“I guess I’m nothing special, thanks for the life lesson.”
Kill Me boasts some new experimentation for the band and the result is generally good. The EP itself starts very well but does sort of peter out. Nevertheless, I think it does remind us of their ability and that the third album should be one to watch.