Sundara Karma – Ulfilas' Alphabet

Sundara Karma's new album is an effective blend of style and genre, but the bold and inventive album lacks a true standout track

Album Review by Malvika Padin | 12 Mar 2019
  • Sundara Karma – Ulfilas' Alphabet
Album title: Ulfilas' Alphabet
Artist: Sundara Karma
Label: Chess Club / RCA
Release date: 1 Mar

Sundara Karma's second album opens with A Song For My Future Self, which explores a slightly psychedelic sound within its first few notes. It eventually builds into a calmer guitar-led piece, before the instrumentally simplistic One Last Night On This Earth graces your ears. Greenhands and Symbols of Joy & Eternity are both catchy, upbeat tracks that starkly yet welcomingly contrast with One Last Night On This Earth, which takes the album in a new musical direction.

The shifting sonics of Ulfilas' Alphabet keep you alert as the record moves from rock to country (The Changeover) then to jazz (Illusions). Later, the sweet instrumentals of Duller Days and Sweet Intentions lull you in before the indie-rock of Rainbow Body brings the record back full circle.

What stands out, beyond the shifting musicality and range, is Sundara Karma's ability to tell stories with their lyrics. One Last Night... tells the strange story of an extra-terrestrial falling in love with a human, while Little Smart Houses, with its fun DIY video, tells the story of the band’s fans in a sweet tribute. There's a story hidden in each passing track, whether in the catchy beats of Greenhands, the soaring end of the penultimate title track, or in the tranquillity of the album closer, Home (There Was Never Any Reason to Feel So Alone).

Experimentations galore, Sundara Karma’s second album is one that works well, as tracks blend into each other despite jarring soundscapes. But there is no track that appears a clear standout, and therein lies the failing within an otherwise bold record, as no one track roots you in your place wanting more.

Listen to: Greenhands, Illusions, Little Smart Houses, Duller Days