November 23, 2021

Sunflower Bean - Twentytwo In Blue (2018) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Indie Rock
Label Number: MP333
☠: Selected by Lass
© 2018 Mom + Pop
Sunflower Bean's second album, Twentytwo in Blue, was written during two times of upheaval: the bandmembers navigating their early twenties and the first year of the Trump presidency. The young trio returned from touring the world in support of their excellent debut album, Human Ceremony, with an expanded worldview and a desire to write simple, punchy songs that talked honestly about their lives and their feelings about the world. To that end, they stripped away all traces of lazy psychedelia from their sound, replacing the fuzzy edges with toughness and digging deeper lyrically to uncover some real emotional content. This time around, the songs that rock really rock hard and the ballads are twice as swoony. The band and its producers (previous collaborator Matthew Molnar sharing desk space this time with Unknown Mortal Orchestra's Jacob Portrait) don't pull any punches and the record has an immediate impact, both sonically and emotionally. About half the record sounds like the work of a road-tested, whip-smart rock & roll band. Bassist Julia Cumming spits out the often political lyrics with a wild-eyed fever and the rest of the band (guitarist/vocalist Nick Kivlen and drummer Jacob Faber) match her fire. Tracks like "Crisis Fest" and "Puppet Strings" have romping glam rock rhythms and diamond-tough guitars, "Human For" almost crosses into metal territory, and the stomping "Burn It" would have made Suzi Quatro proud to call it her own in 1972. Alongside these speaker-rattling tracks, the band's ballads really stand out. Both singers transmit lovely and honest-sounding sweetness and sadness; the expanded arrangements they add to the songs are prom lush; and the band never strays into sappiness, even when singing about growing up, which is tough to do. The song in question, "Twentytwo," really shows what a great singer Cumming has become, able to carry a song with no heavy lifting thanks to her rich tone and light touch. Along with the rockers and weepers, the band also travels the middle ground between the two with style, channeling classic-period Fleetwood Mac on "I Was a Fool"; rollicking with a bouncy joy on "Sinking Sands"; and dishing out a brilliant example of girl group-style indie pop on "Oh No, Bye Bye," a song that's the best example on the album of how well Cumming and Kivlen's vocal styles fit together. In fact, everything on Twentytwo in Blue fits together perfectly; from the songs to the sounds to the performances, it's indie rock and pop at their thoughtful, searching, sweet, and punchy best.

tags: sunflower bean, twentytwo in blue, 2018, flac,

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