21 Feb 2016

Sunflower Bean / Human Ceremony (album review)

From the ever lucrative New York music scene, Sunflower Bean have emerged with a debut worthy of the hype that already surrounded them. From track to track they manage to bridge gaps between genres with a constant flare and a fuzzy kinda grace.

With dreamy psychedelic points such as opener Human Ceremony and Creation Myth, the vocals of bassist Julia Cumming and guitarist Nick Kivlen work hand in hand, with Cumming’s swooning, pristine falsetto and Kilven’s rougher, darker counter parts. On top of synths and guitar riffs drenched in reverb Sunflower Bean are reminiscent of Rumours era Fleetwood Mac.

Creation Myth takes a sharp turn into the heavier, slight Black Sabbath-esque realms that Sunflower Bean are loved for. This energetic, more frenzied approach is demonstrated in personal favourite of mine, Come On as well as older gem 2013. 2013 featured on 2015’s Show Me Your Seven Secrets EP but was re-recorded for the album. Sounding a lot cleaner and like they’ve taken advantage of the opportunities a studio is an occurrence on a few songs throughout the album. The band have opted for less chaos and experimented with different techniques and sounds. Chaos is never completely on the cards thought because drummer, Jacob Faber’s wonderful tight snare work keeps everything together and speeding forward at the same pace. 

However by no means have they gone soft and songs like Easier Said, Wall Watcher and I Was Home showcase this with festival ready choruses and scuzzy guitar riffs. The call and response works amazingly well on I Was Home and makes the song so much more interesting.
Human Ceremony finishes on Space Exploration Disaster a 4 minute journey into a world of distortion, clever lyrics and catchy melodies. 

As a band formed when they were teenagers, Sunflower Bean are still discovering which alley they want to to go down and what direction is best to take their sound in. Therefore meaning that this album cannot be labeled with one clear genre. It would be easy to say that the album is messy and unstructured due to it’s eclectic nature however, I think it makes the album more compelling and unique. That said it’ll be interesting to see where Sunflower Bean choose to go afterwards, and which direction they choose to follow; whether it is the psych pop elements with synths and jangly guitar riffs or the more garagey rock with heavier distortion and louder vocals. All in all, Human Ceremony is a really exciting album that more than topped my high expectations.

9.0/ 10 

(written by Isobel Mcleod)