Sunflower Bean’s explosive, politically-charged sophomore release showcases the magnitude of youthful growth that the NYC trio have undergone.
Jacob Faber, drummer of Sunflower Bean, has described the Trump administration as a “shit show.” To say the New York City trio’s follow-up album, Twentytwo In Blue, wasn’t influenced by our current political climate would be a massive misstep. Faber, along with bassist/vocalist, Julia Cumming, and guitarist/vocalist, Nick Kivlen, has made an attempt at a far-reaching, mature, sophomore release that does anything but fall short.
The New York natives have all but excluded the Brooklyn bedroom pop musical movement from affecting their guitar rock origins. Sunflower Bean draw influence from a number of contemporary rock acts, like Black Sabbath, The Smiths, and Tame Impala. Drifting through a sea of neo-psychedelia, melded with post punk and tradition metal, the group embodies a slew of sounds that, once were being defined on Human Ceremony, have now fully become recognized on Twentytwo In Blue.
Human Ceremony, Sunflower Bean’s debut album, was released when the group was still only in their teens. Although the album garnered a multitude of praise, the band’s sound had not been entirely developed. The trio had some nostalgia inducing tracks, like “Easier Said,” meshed with child-like, punk outfitted ones, like “2013,” but Twentytwo In Blue proves to be a more defined version, with an undoubtedly more cohesive sound.
Twentytwo In Blue, out 3/23/18 via local NYC Mom + Pop Records and Lucky Number, comes with a collective twenty-second year on earth for all three members of the band. The last few years have been shaped by the band’s relentless touring, both as supporting acts for heavy hitters like DIIV and Foxygen and as headliners. Yes, Sunflower Bean still exudes an air of youth, but the group has truly marked a new era for their sound, one that progresses beyond the realms of what even more seasoned bands can muster up today.
Listen: Twentytwo In Blue – Sunflower Bean
Explosive glam rock track “Burn It” opens up the album. Cumming’s vocals remain ever angelic, with a backdrop of seething tension. She sings, “This town, burn it to the ground!” The guitar licks are punchy, the drumming is blunt. The essence of 1970’s New York punk CBGB scene comes to life on “Burn It.”
“I Was A Fool” was the first single to be released off of Twentytwo In Blue. Kivlen and Cumming’s vocals echo one another in a deep melancholy yearning. Cumming sings:
I was getting lost in your quicksand
Looking around for your hand
When I noticed I’m falling
Kivlen’s vocals are deeply contrasting to that of Cumming. His have a lo-fi sound. It’s as if he’s more distant from the track. He sings
I was a fool who lost his head
I’m just a child who can’t keep his word
The dizzying track embodies the confusion surrounding young love with lush melodies and jangly rhythms.
Watch: “I Was A Fool” – Sunflower Bean
“Twentytwo” explores the scandal of powerful men exploiting young people with shimmery hi-hats and an air of hopefulness for redemption. “Crisis Fest” continues with brazen bass lines and uplifting messages for the youth. “Memoria” glitters as brightly as the rest of the record, coupled with the thoughtful lyrics, “the past is the past for a reason.” “Puppet Strings” is only at its best for the punctuation-esque drum parts. “Human For,” the last single released off of Twentytwo In Blue, is a rejection of religion anthem for a digital era.
To close out the album, Sunflower Bean chose the purposeful track “Oh No, Bye Bye.” The track alludes to the indication of the end, without forgoing the hopeful feeling that Sunflower Bean has maintained throughout Twentytwo In Blue. Cumming and Kivlen’s harmonizing is in stark contrast of one another. He sings monotone, while she adds her signature hauntingly, seductive vocals to give the track movement. Kivlen sings:
I want to know
Does it still get cold outside?
Do you think we can make it together?
Do you think it would be alright?
Cause’ it’d be a shame
If the end did come inside
Well at least we’d have each other
And I think it’d be alright
and with that, one final breath of hope for Sunflower Bean.
Sunflower Bean blossom on Twentytwo In Blue. Their lyrical imagery has grown to be more reflective, yet their musical youth is not lost on the jaded effects of age. The air of positivity that rings through throughout the album glitters into real-time effects on the listener. Instead of approaching this change delicately, Sunflower Bean have jumped in, total force, full-speed ahead. Sunflower Bean will continue to keep guitar rock alive and well in Brooklyn.
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📸 © Hollie Fernando