Sunflower Bean – Twentytwo in Blue
New York three-piece Sunflower Bean come into their own on their second long player Twentytwo in Blue
New York three-piece Sunflower Bean come into their own on their second long player Twentytwo in Blue, co-produced by Unknown Mortal Orchestra's Jacob Portrait. After a potentially wrong-footing opener with Burn it – the kind of song you imagine a pale/stale/male record executive would line up as the obvious single with its sassy Blondie-esque vocal line and strutty guitar solo – Twentytwo in Blue settles into a groove which is far more Fleetwood Mac by way of The xx, The Submarines and The Cardigans. You'd be surprised how pleasant an album that makes for.
High watermark of the key change is I Was a Fool, on which frontwoman Julia Cumming is every inch the twenty-first century Stevie Nicks. If you're reminded of You Make Loving Fun, well, we think it was probably intentional. On Twentytwo, she does her best Chrissie Hynde (if Hynde was in Hymn to Her / Don't Get Me Wrong mode). Before you dismiss Sunflower Bean as a band who wear their influences on their sleeve you hit glam rocker Puppet Strings, on which guitarist Nick Kivlen gets to share vocal duties and you start to hear a weird current of other bands – Kivlen's delivery has the earnestness of The Pain's of Being Pure at Heart frontman Kip Berman, but also the laid-back insouciance of The xx's Oliver Sim. A sense of hallowed rock tradition commingling with the great and the good of today comes to the fore and you think, hey, these guys are pretty good!
Twentytwo in Blue is the kind of album that has you zinging for references (Only a Moment is a little Joan as Police Woman; Human For is a little Polly Jean Harvey; Sinking Sands is a little bit Ohms or Alabama Shakes). All three members of the band are 22 (hence the name of the album, we guess) but there's not much sense of blue here. This is a record made by people who you sense are full of all of the possibilities of the world, looking to cram it all in and make some fine music as a soundtrack. They've done a pretty great job so far.
Listen to: I Was a Fool, Puppet Strings, Oh No, Bye Bye