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Sauna Youth - "Distractions" | Album Review

by Andrew Leeper

If you’re going with the name Sauna Youth you better have the smarts to back it up. Luckily Sauna Youth comes out of the gate with some of the most wiry, driving jams in quite some time. With the energy and speed of early Ramones through an art-damaged lens, Sauna Youth bang out intelligent bruisers for the disaffected. The London four-piece pulls off a striking balance between no-wave cool and breakneck punk house party burners.
From start to finish, live-wire guitars cut across the album. There is a simple economy in the kind of focused minimalism dispersed throughout Distractions. Like Eddy Current Suppression Ring cranked up on speed, they knock out stripped down anthems before you even see them coming. Sauna Youth also uses detached, chanted girl/guy joint vocals on every track to great effect. It’s often serves as a good counter balance to the poppier moments on the album. The rhythm section also seems to have an otherworldly connection, turning and weaving quickly through a maze of quick chord changes with precision and finesse.
Distractions is the type of album made for playing loud at house parties. It provides the perfect soundtrack to one of those crazy night that somehow gets out of hand in the best ways. Stand-out tracks include "Transmitters," "New Fear" and "Try to Leave". The lead track “Transmitters” manages to fuse post-punk vocals and guitars with a driving power pop backbone leading to an unlikely sing along anthem. The swagger of “New Fear” jams hard, while “Try To Leave” will stick in your head for days with enough fuzz and jangle to win any cynic over. Sauna Youth manages to capture the hectic, anxious feel of everyday life while maintaining some chaotic sort of zen optimism. These days we all could use a bit of that.