Sauna Youth - Distractions (Cover Artwork)

Sauna Youth

Distractions (2015)

Upset the Rhythm

Sauna Youth are the type of band with youthful exuberance to spare. On their latest full length, they manage to cram it into every corner and maintain a cohesive 30 minutes of incensed, bouncy energy. Channeling the hectic swing of Swell Maps and the polite barrage of The Jam, the songs only slow down momentarily so the band can hit you in the back of the head again with their breakneck pace.

The downside to this type of approach is obvious: this constant churn can get to be repetitive, with only the strongest tracks truly standing out in a distinguished fashion. "Future Tense" offers up a dance-able post-punk stomp that is as addicting as it is sharp. "New Fear" has a slightly new wave tinged stance and an oddly catchy chorus that sounds like an old trombone playing through a broken walkie-talkie submerged in water. Sauna Youth make good on their almost Sonic Youth pun of a band name by attempting an almost Sonic Youth-like ruminative stroll on "(Taking a) Walk." The track has a somber spoken word style, stuck somewhere between Kim Gordon's forceful narration and Lee Ranaldo's monotone drawl. The song isn't quite dynamite, but the track does its best to add some variety to the proceedings.

Lyrically, the band displays their take on monotony (on the aptly titled "Monotony") as well as propulsive anxiety in society ("Modern Living"). Elsewhere, the lyrics take on an esoteric quality, skirting the line between scoffing and sincerity. "Abstract notions / have no place in pure thought" deadpans vocalist Richard Phoenix on "Abstract Notions," a song that sounds like a liberal arts school essay that uses angular guitar solos in place of supporting arguments.

With 14 songs in 29 minutes, Sauna Youth writes concisely, making their point and then quickly stepping back. As Distractions comes to a close, the points start to blur together. The band doesn't make any missteps on the album, but they sacrifice a strong finish by not risking any.

Listen to the album here.