Sauna Youth’s third album, Deaths, mixes a whole lotta genres into their punk sound. The London-based group forced a deadline on themselves by booking the studio time before anything was written. This meant the creative process was turned on its head and time limits meant whichever band members could make it to sessions each week played whichever instrument needed. The lyrics touch on politics, action and inaction, the drudgery of work, the fun of leisure and the nuisance, or otherwise, of distraction. LP and CD on Upset The Rhythm.
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Ages ago when I started working here it felt like I got to listen to a record like this every three days, and it ruled. An antidote to the endless slew of not-at-all fun guitar records, bands like Sauna Youth were doing it with Twisted and Menace Beach and Monotony (who, admittedly, are just a retelling of Sauna Youth, but hey: shut up). It’s 2018 now and Sauna Youth still feel totally in the right place: wound even tighter, made even more scornful, they’ve reduced the simmering of twee that existed over their noise rock churn and made ‘Deaths’, their best ever iteration of a sound angular, agitated and quite stubborn about it.
Sauna Youth are one of those bands who’ve lived long enough to be the best version of themselves. These discordant songs are absolute ragers, at this point, the super repetitive riffs and chord sequences acting as a holding pattern before keeping the jams from spluttering out of place. “In Flux” is so tight but an absolute gem of a solo comes leaking out of it; “Problems” uses a horrible non-chord and a bout of feedback to announce stern rhythmic mishaps. They manage to create a punk rock banger out of pretty much just saying “problems” over and over again over hypnotic guitars (playing wrong but, after a certain amount of time hearing them, totally right) and a bit of slow-rotting distortion. People will tell you to just be confident in your dirge if you want it to sound perfect: Sauna Youth know. They know.
There’s still some fun surprises to be had with their sound; “The Patio” is an absolute disaster to listen to on headphones and it’s proud of it. Its lovely, children’s channel TV melody is a fairytale invite, but it gives way to a transgressive spoken word, panned entirely into one ear. You think Sauna Youth are nice, but actually they’re monsters. I love them.
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- Deaths by Sauna Youth
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