Testing boundaries, Sundara Karma release their pop-infused and most experimental work to date with the release of their ‘Kill Me’ EP.
Reading four-piece Sundara Karma waste no time kickstarting their ‘Kill Me’ EP with the impressive title track; an intriguing start to the tracklist that comes in ridiculously strong and sets a sparkling standard for the remaining tracks to live up to.
‘Kill Me’ continues to evolve past the more traditional pop style explored on the second album, ‘Ulfilas’ Alphabet’ (drawing inspiration from the likes of Bowie and Elton John) and much further from the traditional indie tunes featured on their debut, ‘Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect’. Huge drums and beautiful heavy synths create a massive chorus, alongside frontman Oscar Pollock’s effortless vocal talent. Having taken several steps back from being a guitar band, they offer a more futuristic pop sound for a lush experience.
The explosive opener is closely followed by the light and breezy ‘O Stranger’ – soft echoed backing vocals layered underneath Pollock’s main vocal track, drum loops, and fairground synth make for a gorgeous three-minute track. Around this release, Pollock has made his appreciation for the inclusivity of pop music clear, expressing that “pop… is doing something that no other genre is doing” and insisting that Sundara Karma has always written pop songs but “just dressed them differently”. His appreciation for this inclusivity and versatility is clear in this beautiful second track and makes for an incredibly pleasant listen and one of the stand out tracks.
‘YOUR TOUCH’ takes a step back from the contemporary sound found in the first two tracks, it embraces a gorgeous 80s vibe throughout that is perfectly coming of age, as if it’s been pulled straight from a movie scene and helps to show off the group’s versatility. This track is essentially five minutes of joy, filled with layered vocals, key changes, and an awesome synth mini-solo less than halfway through. There are even some ethereal, operatic backing vocals sprinkled throughout the choruses and in the climax of the track, truly lifting the EP to yet another level and breaking any boundaries and shattering any limiting expectations of the four-piece.
Seemingly slowing the pace a little more, ‘Artifice’ truly displays the best of this Sundara Karma era – soft backing vocals building throughout the intro (reminiscent of those in Harry Styles’ ‘Only Angel’) and incredible vocal talent enhanced with modern, synth-like voice filters. Boasting perfectly soft, sparkling synth and impressive drums throughout the track, it is clear that Sundara Karma have fully allowed themselves room to experiment and let loose, building on the new name they are making for the band and, continuing to distance themselves from that tried and tested indie-pop sound found on their first full-length album. Although it’s hard to pinpoint why this track is so incredible to one aspect or another, it’s clear that the group are still very much a force to be reckoned with in the UK music scene right now.
Rounding off ‘Kill Me’ in an immaculate fashion, one of the prettiest songs in the group’s discography, ‘Lifelines’ is a sweet goodbye to this journey, it brings everything to a very natural end thanks to the beautifully heartbreaking lyrics and the last chorus slowly fading into a spoken word extract, but these are also the same things that still leave us wanting more. Probably the strongest track out of the five, ‘Lifelines’ also embraces the same 80s sound heard in ‘YOUR TOUCH’, although with much more haunting sound and so much more emotional, creating what can only be described as a perfect song. As if it wasn’t already clear from the four previous tracks, ‘Lifelines’ makes it clear that Sundara Karma have so many more tricks left up their sleeves for us. Not only does the EP represent a turning point for the band of which has allowed them to develop a “bolder sense” of themselves, it allows for further growth and has us on the edge of our seats, eagerly anticipating their next endeavour.