Sunflower Bean have once again created an album that is unique and fresh.
Label: Lucky Number
Released: 16th March 2018
Somehow, the comforting twangs of melody strummed up by an eclectic spread of guitars throughout ‘Twentytwo in Blue’ evoke a similar sense of nostalgia that underpins Sunflower Bean’s debut album, ‘Human Ceremony’. While certain tracks on the earlier album wouldn’t have seemed out of place backtracking an indie coming-of-age film, the new album suggests a never-before-seen kind of maturity for the band, which is perhaps even more poignant when the title ‘Twentytwo in Blue’ is taken into account: an acknowledgement that the trio all turn twenty-two this year.
Julia Cumming and Nick Kivlen work extremely well as a complementary duo vocals-wise, but Kivlen is undoubtedly the ‘introvert’ in the balance. While it’s an enduring fact that his endearingly retro vocal style contributes a great deal of character to the band’s overall sound, and subsequently to the sound of this album, Kivlen’s strictly solo contributions on ‘Sinking Sands’ and ‘Anyway You Like’ lend very little to the overall durability of ‘Twentytwo in Blue’. Cumming’s voice is simply more vigorous and biting, which are qualities that better suit the direction that Sunflower Bean are heading in with ‘Twentytwo in Blue’.
What’s special about the band and their latest album, is the continued commitment to embracing their standing as a guitar band; their authenticity permeates through every track, but the instrumentals heard in ‘Puppet Strings’ stand out as sounding as though a good dose of pure, unadulterated fun went into its composition.
There’s an elephant in the room – or album – that must be acknowledged, and that’s the lead single, ‘I Was a Fool’. The track is either a thinly veiled reproduction or (hopefully) an affectionate salute to Fleetwood Mac’s iconic 1977 single ‘Dreams’. This is noticeable right from the get go, with identical introductory beats, leading into eerily similar bass-lines, then Cumming’s mellow voice emerges, an echo of Stevie Nicks.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but this would be an unfair statement here. Sunflower Bean have once again created an album that is unique and fresh, while still keeping to a tradition that evokes some of the greatest achievements is modern music history. Lily Beckett