Sundara Karma Make a Not So Triumphant Return With New Single, ‘Illusions’

Tuesday saw the much-anticipated release of indie band Sundara Karma’s new single, ‘Illusions’. Attendees of their set at Saturday’s Neighbourhood festival in Manchester were treated to an exclusive listening of this; Twitter tells me the reaction was overwhelmingly positive.

Sundara Karma is a band which will appease any generic indie kid. This is part of the problem. It’s not a crime to love everything a band has ever produced: I know I’m certainly guilty of this. Sure, not everyone is a music critic, but what I’m increasingly seeing is that people are losing sight of their critical abilities. Too often will people, not just indie kids, listen to new music and instantly think that it’s good.

‘Illusions’ is a difficult one. The bass line and main melody are both really groovy: it’s easy to see why this is appeasing the indie kids of Twitter. The track shows elements of musical development: the band has come a long way since ‘Flame’ and ‘Loveblood’. My initial thoughts in the first ten seconds of the track were: “wow, they’ve changed their sound a bit”, and then the vocals began. This is where I have an issue.

Everyone the world over is capable of detecting David Bowie’s singing voice. It’s very distinctive and completely original: you don’t have to be a Bowie superfan to recognise that. The vocals in the new Sundara Karma track are painfully similar to that of Bowie’s. I don’t take issue with artists being influenced by other artists. Everyone has musical influences: admiring other musicians is central to the development of any musician’s work. However, there is a difference between being influenced and inspired by seminal works by artists such as Bowie, and copying and pasting elements of their work.

Listening to other Sundara Karma tracks, it’s hard to believe that the vocals presented to us in ‘Illusions’ are organic. There is, of course, such a thing as vocal development, but this isn’t the case here. These vocals aren’t natural: it feels as though they’re trying incredibly hard to sound a certain way. This ruins the track for me.

Cringey though it is, music should always come from the heart. The same goes for any other art forms. Had the Reading lads stuck to their original style of vocals, I would have considered this a considerable musical development. For now, if you want to hear a taste of Bowie, I recommend you stick to your Scary Monsters or Aladdin Sane LPs. Sorry.

Eleanor Noyce

Header Image by Amber Pollack