Sauna Youth - Distractions

by Steve Reynolds Rating:9 Release Date:2015-06-08

Energy, guts, and fucking balls, that’s what is missing in British indie music. As Alex Turner sagely said: “The weekend rock stars are in the toilets practising their lines”. He was right; there is too much safe ground, vacant space between ears, overt posturing, shitty haircuts, and a lack of bravery. 

But things are taking a turn for the better; we have Fawn Spots from Leeds shaking it up with their Husker Du type thang and now we have the rampant beauty of Sauna Youth. They take the spunk of 70s punk, blend it with no-nonsense, high-tempo, angular guitar jabs, and spike it with a heavy dose of resplendent noise and urgency. They remind of Rudi, who were at the vanguard of the original Irish punk scene that also heralded The Undertones and Stiff Little Fingers, which isn’t a bad sign-post to flag up.

The Brighton-based four-piece have got round to this, their second full album, titled Distractions. It has 14 songs on it, totalling just over 30 minutes. They take the aesthetic mind-set of Buzzcocks which was lean, mean, no solos, no flab, just flat out irregular punk rock. 

The immediacy is in full bloom with the recent single ‘Transmitters’. It’s an absolute killer of a track, full of channelled, pumped-up adrenalin. The drums smack you between the eyes from the start and when the Gang of Four riff is complemented by a twanging bass and dead pan male/female vocal, you have the perfect pogo song, quite possibly the best 7in you will hear this year. ‘No Fear’ beats a similar refrain by keeping the tempo levels up high, while the call/response school-yard cat-calls are full of dirty beauty.

This album is proof that the sub-three-minute song can still kick like a mule and have the desired impact of waking the musically undead. ‘Monotony’ would make Mark E Smith smile such is its, erm, (cough) monotony.

Sauna Youth take a very no wave approach to their songs; you won’t find any crooning or strings or lavish production. Their lo-fi, stripped-bare production is both beguiling and intriguing. They could be classed as the UK equivalent to No Age; ‘A Bridge’ strokes a similar note to the US drum-and-guitar duo - atonal and idiosyncratic nonsense.

Distractions will leave you breathless, awakened, boss-eyed and smiling. This is the template UK guitar bands should be using in the future. A band making a point, nailing their importance to the underground, and doing it with verve, guts and guile. 

Rattling good fun.

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