When in 2015 the indie overlords planted us a psyche-punk band by the name of Sunflower Bean in our garden, we happily waited for it grow. First output from the young seedling was 2016’s Human Ceremony and saw the band offer the green shoots of a dawning age of guitar music. It drove hard and fast straight through your teeth. We all watched hopefully as the band cut their own, knowing Sunflower Bean’s success would likely rest on that ‘dreaded second album’.
Lucky then that new album, out on Friday (March 23rd), Twentytwo in Blue is some of the best work, not only from the band, but from all the bands in recent years, amalgamating everything that is good about guitar music in to one hunk of modern sonic expression.
It may feel a little flimsy to describe a band with such breadth and depth of musical influences as simply ‘guitar music’ but when looking across this album it’s hard to describe them as anything else, purely for this breadth of inspiration. Influences can be heard from Roy Orbison, to Fleetwood Mac, to The Beach Boys to Sabbath and beyond – all combined in one giant melting pot.
The band jump from their punky best to something a little smarter and cleaner in a single track. Favourites include the glam rock spangled ‘Burn It’ which is the nostalgia trip we should all take, while ‘TwentyTwo’ sees lead singer Julia Cumming do her best to channel Stevie Nicks in full flailing garb, across a grittier folk-pop gem that had us singing for hours and marveling at the vocal development of Cummings.
‘Crisis Fest’ is probably the track more closely linked to their unabashed first album with it’s garage rock roots shining for all to see while ‘Human For’ does a good job coming second. It acts as a collective furrowing of the brow by the band as they point their cross-hairs at society and get a little angry.
So, the real question is not “is this album any good?”, that question is answered within the first few bars as Sunflower Bean show their growth above the picket fence, popping their head in to the collective consciousness with easily one of the best albums of 2018. No, the real question is, can this be the band to push the plunger and administer adrenaline to the comatose heart of rock and roll.
Simply? Yes. Sunflower Bean are the whole package. They not only have the look, Julia Cumming is catwalk attention grabbing, Nick Kivlen on guitar feels like he was lifted directly from a T-Rex gig and drummer Jacob Faber has the unsuspecting but wild eyes of a true rock and roll drummer. Nor only the music which has authenticity and eclecticism across every not. But they also have the modernity that so many other bands miss.
Bands of the recent past were very concerned with their placement. Too often they recoiled at being called a certain genre over another, they enjoyed the sub-cultural tribal nature of rock and roll.
Sunflower Bean are doing the exact opposite, they are the cut and paste generation, only 22 as you might assume, they possess not only the ability to create something for a new generation but they have the wide-eyed open minds that will encourage others to come along with them for the ride.
Sunflower Bean have grown beyond our imaginations and now they can bask in the sun.