Sauna Youth - Deaths

by Joseph Trotman Rating:8 Release Date:2018-09-07
Sauna Youth - Deaths
Sauna Youth - Deaths

"Deaths" is Sauna Youth's last album in a loosely-linked thematic trilogy that began in 2012 with their debut LP "Dreamlands". But, it barrels forth with momentous purpose for an album that's intended to have a tone of finality to it. In this way, it does not deviate much from the winning formula of 2015's excellent middle-installment "Distractions". It's a near-constant barrage of glucose-saturated hook-punk bangers, offset with the occasional spoken word piece. From both a production and songwriting standpoint, everything is a little more unfussy this time around, probably due to time constraints that the band self-imposed on the writing and recording process (five months from go to woe, according to their press release). Many of these songs sound like variations on the same riff, but the sheer momentum that the album clips along at keeps them from feeling stultifying or bland.

Every song on "Deaths" implies something subjectively weighty. On "Leisure Time", its the pervading existential angst that we aren't making the most of the occasional reprieves that capitalism allows us from the 9 - 5.   On "Percentages", it's the dehumanising effect that the manipulative political fact-chucking class have on the workers of contemporary England when they boil them down to numbers. But Sauna Youth clearly hold honest-to-God punk dear to their hearts and they know that there's no room in a good ole punk song for any over-intellectualising. They have an aptitude for concision and they avoid prescriptive sloganeering with aplomb. As such, any over-analysis is ultimately unnecessary. Ask me what I think about "Problems" and I can do nothing but jubilantly scream it's title at you over and over again, just like it does in the song.

There's a quasi-conceptual take on contemporary Monotony, among other things, that runs through Sauna Youth's work and demonstrates their artsier sensibilities. But they balance their auteur-ish desire to challenge us with a benevolent impulse toward accessibility that Joey Ramone would smile upon from heaven. "Deaths" does occasionally feel rushed, and its more muted production stops it just short of achieving the giddy highs of their previous effort. But Sauna Youth have succeeded in creating something that sidesteps both saccharine populism via refried pop punk riffage and the intimidation tactics of modern cult hardcore to give us a very satisfying listen.

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