Craig Dyer looks back on one of the band’s most cherished and definitive works.
As the record approaches its ten-year anniversary, we’re extremely excited to be repressing perhaps one of, if not the definitive, The Underground Youth record; 2010’s ‘Sadovaya’. A masterclass in the lo-fi psychedelic post-punk that the band cultivated in their earlier works, the album will get its second pressing after we issued it to vinyl for the first time back in 2014 (now, of course, long sold-out.) Now repressed on white vinyl and limited to 500 copies, you can pick up a copy here.
Across its nine tracks – including such fan-favourites as ‘Morning Sun’, ‘Heart on a Chain’ and ‘On The Floor’ – ’Sadovaya’ perfectly articulates why The Underground Youth became to be seen as such a prolific forebearer of the European neo-psych scene as its known today. This album in particular arriving several years before the oh-so-mythologised shoegaze/psychedelic revival that populated the second half of the 2010s; an era, still ongoing, marked by a new generation of bands indebted to records like Sound of Confusion, Strung Out In Heaven, Loveless and Psychocandy.
Looking back on the album, Craig Dyer recalls: “If memory serves, though it doesn't always, the songs on 'Sadovaya' were written between my hometown of Blackpool and St. Petersburg, Russia, which I visited a number of times during this period. The album title was taken from the historically significant street, Sadovaya Ulitsa, close to which Olya and I stayed on one of my visits. We also stayed a number of times at the Art House Hotel, from where the title of the albums opening track 'Art House Revisited' came from.”
Given its origins, both geographically and personally, it’s unsurprising, then, that the album is a collection of love songs steeped in Russian imagery; influenced just as much by the writings of Dostoyevsky, Lermontov and Pushkin, as it is Soviet-era cinema and music (gothic post-punk band Kino being a particularly strong influence.)
While they may have now swapped the bedroom for studios, the band have always maintained a fiercely DIY approach (hey, even their current studio is that of guitarist Leo Kaage). Testament to that, ‘Sadovaya’ was a self-recorded and originally self-released piece of work. The limitations inherent in that borne out in the record’s stark, lo-fi feel – and being all the better for it: “The album was all recorded in the same basic bedroom home-recording style and on the same substandard and unreliable equipment as the three albums that came before, the previous being "Mademoiselle” He continues: “There’s a genuine naivety to the recordings that makes it my most visceral, personal record.”
Reflecting on ‘Sadovaya’ and its deeply-important place in The Underground Youth’s extensive back-catalogue (the band released their ninth full-length ‘Montage Images of Lust & Fear’ last year and are busy working on the next), Craig remarks: “I guess a lot of the songs on this record would go on to define the band in a way. 'Morning Sun', being one of our most popular, we've never played a live show without having in the setlist. At the time of writing and recording it, I really couldn't have imagined that.”