Sauna Youth

Riddled with angst, Sauna Youth express their feelings in a quite British 70’s fashion, spitting South East accent vocals over a ‘The Jam’ like setup. This, a follow-up to their 2015 debut album ‘Distractions’ strikes a similar chord, but they’re still pushing the envelope.

The album explores the theme of death in a very literal way with spoken word poetry on the subject, but morose content is largely overshadowed by a determined and moody kind of optimism. They’re like a serious and more restrained Idles, adding weight to their monotonous vocal style with frantic, gnarling guitars and high tempo drum beats. Age has removed some of the warmth and playfulness of the first album, reducing the tracks to around 2 minutes each and simplifying guitar parts to create a more traditional punk sound. Occasional homemade noises and effects help to boost the narrative and provide depth.

Political topics feature regularly, from employment and money issues to social anxiety and rebellion. ‘Swerve’ is a poem read as if the narrator was commentating at their own wake, and the theatrical change of tone somehow manages to gel with the rest of the tracklist, despite the presence of a tuba. Jen Calleja’s splendiferous way with words is also highlighted noticeably on the album finale ‘Theatre 83’, where the singer lists all of the people in the past that she’s had to listen to, who have apparently been like a father to her.

Heavy repetition of the word “problems” in the song called ‘Problems’ somehow makes the eventual line “I’ve got no problems” seem obsolete, like telling themselves everything is fine while having a nervous breakdown. There are elements of The Undertones and Buzzcocks, proudly showcasing artistic working-class Britain with a fearless swagger – the percentages may be against them, but this is how they choose to live their lives. Listen to what they have to say above the mainstream drone, as well as the roar of distorted guitars and rapid drumming… right now!

‘Distractions’ was such a great album, I bought the t-shirt. This follow-up contributes much of the same quality, but with a more purposeful and cohesive sense of direction. I’ve come to believe a second album is best approached as a way to strengthen a live set of songs from the first album, like creating an extended directors cut. Deaths does this perfectly, combining thought provoking prose with an exhilarating punk soundtrack that intelligently looks back as well as forwards.

Release Date 7th September 2018 (Upset The Rhythm Records)

Sauna Youth Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter

Peter Rea

I like to go see fresh new music at Manchester's superb selection of smaller venues, and then share my enthusiasm.