March 23, 2018 Sunflower Bean – Twentytwo in Blue (Album Review)
They are of the past and the present, a perfect embrace of the old and the new, and Sunflower Bean return with Twentytwo in Blue on Friday, March 23, 2018, thanks to Mom + Pop.
Sunflower Bean were formed in 2013 in Long Island and Brooklyn, New York. (How sweet it is!) Here they found one another on the New York City music scene, leaving behind other projects to formulate Sunflower Bean. Their debut album, 2016’s Human Ceremony, established the band as a unique and formidable presence in music, leading to spots on the 2014 CMJ Music Marathon and 2015 SXSW, along with nods of approval from the folks at NME. The threesome are big Tame Impala fans and even have a song of the same name, and have shared stages with the likes of Pixies, Wolf Alice, Sleigh Bells, Best Coast, and Foxygen.
So what’s next? Two years after the release of their critically-acclaimed debut, Sunflower Bean – Julia Cumming (vocals/bass), Nick Kivlen (guitar/vocals), and Jacob Faber (drums) – are a group of twenty-two year-olds who are now poised to release their sophomore effort, the aptly-titled Twentytwo in Blue. Co-produced by Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Jacob Portrait (who also mixed the record) and Human Ceremony-Producer Matt Molnar of Friends, at eleven tracks in length, this is a collection that perfectly displays the trio’s amalgamated sound: Blondie meets 1990s Sub Pop, crafting a lo-fi Indie Pop/Alt Rock blend that weaves a myriad of other influences throughout its retro-licious core.
Twentytwo in Blue kicks off with the chugging beat of “Burn It,” with prevalent ‘90s Alt/Indie Rock influences woven throughout its fiery core. First single/video, “I Was a Fool,” sees Cumming and Kivlen dueting on a bittersweet tale of (romantic?) regret. It is “Twentytwo,” however, that truly allows the band to shine as a whole. Highlighting Cumming’s perfectly retrolicious vocals, this gentle hip-swaying piece presents a scrumptious twist on Dylan Thomas’ immortal words. No, we do not go quietly into the night!
Second single/video, “Crisis Fest,” embraces the band’s feisty, inner Riot Grrrls and presents a gritty little political stomp across the distraught American landscape (“2017 we know / Reality’s one big sick show”). This moves the band into the wispy tribute to leaving the past in the past, “Memoria,” before they tackle the meandering waves of “Puppet Strings,” which already sound familiar, like a beloved 1970s rocker.
The bittersweet feels of downtempo “Only A Moment” take a deep breath to appreciate being exactly where you’re supposed to be, while distorted rocker “Human For” serves to remind us that part of what makes us human, part of what makes us special, are our differences. Next, deep bass-lines anchor the poignant swing of “Any Way You Like,” which sees Kivlen stepping up to lead the emotional journey. There is a fear of the unknown at the center of the insightful storytelling piece, “Sinking Sands.” They end the collection with some stunning guitar-work and the confession that it would be a shame if we didn’t have each other, adios, “Oh No, Bye Bye.”
On Twentytwo in Blue, Sunflower Bean cement that, while they are young, they have the goods to offer up something unique and sincere that is decidedly missing from the Indie Pop/Alt Rock scene today. Weaving in Post-Punk notes, Psychedelia, and a consistent homage to a better musical time, this is a trio that looks fully to the future by nodding their collective head to the past. Which, you know, is probably why they are so darn retrolicious in the very best, distorted and swaying way. With insightful, poetic lyrics that oft toe the line into social and political commentary – but never force-feed a point of view – Sunflower Bean prove that being twenty-two is a really good age to be! For these reasons, CrypticRock give Sunflower Bean’s Twentytwo in Blue 4 of 5 stars.