This is the kind of wonderful scratchy-guitar post-punk with accented British vocals that would have been on a Rough Trade compilation around 1979. RIYL: The Jam, Wire, Dogs.
Favorite track: Transmitters.
'Distractions' (released 8 June 2015) marks the first time the band has managed to write everything in a room together and also documents the first time they have entered a studio to record; the songs in turn created through the process of learning to write together. 'Distractions' was recorded over a couple of days in July 2014 at Sound Savers in Homerton with Mark Jasper, then mixed by the band and mastered by Kris Lapke.
'Distractions' is made up of 14 songs about desire, but more importantly, about that area just out of reach of desire, at the very centre of the human psyche. It looks at what it means to be distracted from being yourself. It thrives in the desire to be someone else, the very idea that you could be someone else. It's also an album that feels instinctive and natural, flowing freely from a band that have come to terms with the sum of its parts. Ultimately though, Sauna Youth have made a colossal record which is impossible not to dance to.
Attracted to the possibilities apparent within a DIY philosophy, the band self-recorded and self-released their own music pretty much until the release of their debut LP 'Dreamlands' on Faux Discx/Gringo Records in 2012. 'Dreamlands' opened with the 10-minute introduction to the "Town Called Distraction," where the stories on this new album find themselves living.
This new album opens with the same locked groove from the end of previous one, until "Transmitters" suddenly breaks the cycling ambience, racing off at full pelt, its guitars pulsing and chopping in a terse manner before the chorus crashes in like a wave.
By singing every word at the same time, Ecke and Boon create a unified voice of no specific gender, allowing the songs to be sung from multiple perspectives, from a place of shared experience. The song's lyrics branch out of ideas of Transhumanism; looking for a way to live forever, for something that makes us last, like recordings. "I want my thoughts scratched into plastic/hear my voice on an endless loop/I like persistence," they sing in unison.
"New Fear" is an elegy for endless lost hours, endless wasted nights, the strangle hold of feeling that you're missing out. "Monotony" represents a desire for a change that won't come: history repeats, music repeats, it's just the context that changes. This is echoed in the type of streamlined focus the band have on composition too, everything drives onwards with inner compulsion, there is no outward hesitation.
With "Cosmos Seeker," the authenticity of character is explored, the drums strictly pinning the jabbing guitar chords and vocals into a propulsive swarm of sound. "Modern Living" is a song that could only have been written now by the band - it sounds effortless yet thrilling all the same, so realised but seemingly spontaneous.
"Modern Living" considers another desire - this time the need for a new way of living that escapes the threat of your job becoming your whole life. 'Distractions' also includes two poems put to music: "(Taking a) Walk" by Ecke is a rumination on the body, specifically female, in public spaces, while "Paul" by Boon explores individuality and authentic performance. Themes of anxiety, indecision and preoccupation run throughout the album.
Beginning and ending in squalling feedback "The Bridge" is always the song that rings longest in your head when listening to 'Distractions.' It's full of the desire to set yourself apart, to connect and hold focus. It's exactly this halfway house existence that best exemplifies the band. There's no standing still when there's such desire to escape to the next song, there's only transformation and desire.
released June 8, 2015
Recorded by Mark Jasper at Sound Savers, Homerton. 4th - 6th June 2014. Mixed by Boon with additional mixing & mastering by Kris Lapke.
Photography by Owen Richards and artwork by Boon.
An intoxicating combination of toughness with despair and vulnerability. Chiming, raw, angular guitars float above pulsing rhythms. The lyrics toggle between scattershot randomly impressionistic and unsparingly self-conscious. Reminds me a bit of Parquet Courts, but I prefer this because despite the ferocity, it's haunted by a melancholy dreaminess that I'm just in love with. Feels distinctly British to this American listener; I don't think it could have come from anywhere else. Joe Madden