Originating from Brighton, Sauna Youth are everything a post punk band should be: impossible to categorise, totally wild live performers with a sound that is contradictorily harmonious and brutal at the same time. ‘Distractions’ consists of 14 instinctive songs about desire, carried by a sound that is both superhuman and super weird. It’s also really fun to dance to.
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There’s a good sixteen seconds of tape ambience opening up ‘Distractions’ before Sauna Youth deliver yet another joyous sermon of pop-punk unto British shores. At the moment it feels like twee-ified garage punx is unstoppable, and between Martha, Menace Beach, Twisted, Joanna Gruesome and whoever your favourite band of kindly thrashers is, we’re definitely being spoiled. Sauna Youth are bringing things up the rear, a Brighton band with a sound that lies somewhere between the aforementioned friendly foes and the sinister hxc tone of Metz. It’s gnarly, but it’s also quite lovely.
‘Distractions’ splatters its hooks all over the place, using chance riffs that sound like early Blur (disguised in the scuzz of “Transmitters”) and no frills punk that flies by on its simple, singalong choruses (shout out to the most fitting song title of the year, “Monotony”). What Sauna Youth have that many of their fellow garage dwellers don’t is a bit of sardonic edge: their riffs can be crunchy and hypnotise, and they can use chords to slug their listeners, such as the Swans-lite sequence dug into the background of “Cosmos Seeker”. It’s a sound that juxtaposes fast, rhythmic exuberance in the forefront with something more daunting elsewhere; in “Modern Living”, the band seep in cooed harmonies around a shitfast rhythm spread far and wide with distortion.
It’s a lot, but Sauna Youth do well to fear the trappings of being a pop-punk band with a handful of homogenous songs; they cut them up with irreverent vocal samples that give the record a chance to reconfigure -- it lends the record a chaos among its fairly straight-and-narrow sound. If you’re looking for short, sweet songs sprayed haphazardly into existence, then ‘Distractions’ is another winner.
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