Album Review: Sundara Karma – Ulfilas’ Alphabet

“Nothing lasts forever time will always take its toll”. Sundara Karma have evolved from quaint indie boys to magnificent goth icons since debut album Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect (2017). Ulfilas’ Alphabet is quite literally a religious experience: Ulfilas, the 4th century bishop of the goths: who of which created the gothic alphabet for the purpose of translating the bible. Ulfilas’ Alphabet shows how a indie pop guitar band can transform into a sensational art piece with no expectations.

Sundara Karma’s second album opens with the theatrical ‘A Song For My Future Self’ written based on the advancement and maturity of life itself, and lead with an acoustic guitar, aided by stunning vocals. As an opener for the album, its quite overwhelming. “It’s easier to stick with what you’ve got” is a personal favourite lyric from the whole album – Oscar Pollock showing us how progressive we are as humans, even in a matter of years (which we have seen with the band themselves and their exploration with gothic literature through this album).

‘One Last Night On This Earth’ was the second single released in anticipation of the release. Originally comprised of 88 different instrumental tracks, the hit single is a stunning boogie track and the only song on the album with the previous sunny indie-pop Sundara Karma vibes off their debut album. Another huge 80’s inspired synthy pop banger, ‘Higher States’ has any listener bouncing in excitement. The track is a huge arena tune, which is quite odd given their relatively humble beginnings.

The heartbreaker of the album is ‘The Changeover’; a huge Bowie inspired track which is certain to shed tears, highlighting how inner progression as well as physical progression is inevitable. We change as humans, we mature and develop as “the sticker said the change was good for me”. We should not be afraid of change, we should accept and endure it despite the difficulty. The vocals in the track are stunning: Pollock’s voice being accompanied with a slow subduing drum beat and even a scream through the bridge, shows the defying aptitude of Pollock as a songwriter, singer and guitarist.

Ulfilas’ Alphabet was certainly the shocker of the album, but thankfully a good type. This is the first time singer Oscar Pollock has ever experimented vividly with the vocals of their music (that has been released) – with what I believe to be a hell of a lot of autotune, which fits perfectly with the whole gothic theme, surprisingly. The verses throughout the song are extremely dark, but get firmly lifted up with the extremely dramatic vocals in the chorus, along with Ally Baty’s vibrant guitar skills. The whole concept of this song is very odd, but works; which reflects on the whole album which I guess makes it a great title track.

Recorded in Rak Studios and co-produced by Stuart Price (The Killers, Everything Everything, New Order) and Alex Robertshaw (Everything Everything guitarist), Sundara Karma’s sophomore album certainly proves they’re here to stick around and compete beyond being a twee indie band.

Ulfilas’ Alphabet is released via Chess Club Records / RCA and available to buy here.