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Music Review: Sauna Youth--Distractions ****

Lorna Irvine is full of praise for Sauna Youth's latest album.

Formed in Brighton in 2009, quartet Sauna Youth go from strength to strength on this, their most cohesive album yet.

These Distractions are welcome ones, making it impossible to focus on anything but fourteen little vignettes, full of day-to-day panic, of what author James Gleick identified as 'the acceleration of modern culture' (Monotony, Leather, Modern Living and Try To Leave).

It's their giddy, short, abrasive yet catchy tunes which have made the likes of Marc Riley and Lauren Laverne vocal in their support. This makes perfect sense, as they have a restless 'do it now, ask questions later' punky spirit. Jen Calleja and drummer Richard Phoenix share vocal duties, so that nobody is a lead singer, and their voices blur.

New Fear has choppy textures, with a nagging Fall-esque riff and chanted backing vocals...and live favourite and closer Creeping has sinewy drums and a guitar meltdown like a playful variation on post new-wave acts from America, as played by English eccentrics. Such a hodge-podge of ideas could be hackneyed, were the production not so crisp. And there is nothing obvious in Paul or Taking A Walk, two of Calleja's poems set to music, which are filled with dread, anxiety and paranoia(coming on at times like a British take on Lee Ranaldo's nervy moments with their near namesakes Sonic Youth ) but they transcend their influences, rooted very much in the here and now.

Sweat drips from every pore of this album. More fun than is possibly decent, but you may need a lie down afterwards.

Distractions is out on Upset the Rhythm records on June 8th.

Tags: music

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