- by Mark Steele Rating:9 Release Date:2016-02-06 Label: Fat Possum
A popular maxim for those in later years "Youth is wasted on the young," to address the early years of life as a fleeting commodity value. However, this does not apply to Brooklyn’s new rock 'n' roll trio, Sunflower Bean. Vocalist/guitarist Nick Kivlen, Vocalist/abssist Julia Cumming, and drummer Jacob Faber's complimentary apparel seems more fetching and novel, as they look like heyday snapshot doppelgängers of Bob Dylan, Deborah Harry, and David Crosby. Even though all band members are under the age of 21, they further bring an age-defying maturity to the modern rock 'n' roll round table.
Human Ceremony begins with the title track, melding shoegaze with post-rock. Leading off with a jangly guitar arpeggio with bass simplicity and drums with a superb backbeat, providing a solid supportive backdrop, which gives a feel of to let go and see where the breeze takes you. ‘Come On’ is a Jefferson Airplane-esque track similar in pace to ‘Another Side of This Life’ that is full of revolution- inducing bite. Julia’s vocals recall Grace Slick’s signature wail here, bright and confident, which adds to some very interesting dynamic garage rock breaks in the music.
Straight into a Psych/new wave breakneck groove, ‘2013’ has these breath-takingly relentless speedy drums by Jacob. Accompanied by rumbling bass, and icy chorus effect guitar, the whole piece holds underneath the floating harmonised ethereal vocals of Julia, consummating into a fuzz echo finale. There is a closeness on ‘Easier Said’ to Real Estate’s jangly layered in part, but the drums and bass work here seem to add a more daring harmonic richness not found in Martin Courtney and friend’s material. There are some 80’s style references and that seems to make the song a more compelling arrangement for Julia’s vocals to latch onto.
Nick’s vocals on ‘This Kind of Feeling’ bares a Marc Bolan-esque quality which keep the tune moving on what is simply a psychedelic cosmic jam. In an ode to teenage creature comforts, ‘I Was Home’ seems expressed in a uneasy fashion, contrasted contrary then to the celestial ‘Creation Myth’ has Julia’s voice made resident in your subconscious in a search for sense of the surrounding cosmos.
Fuzz stomper ‘Wall Watcher’ has Julia’s Blondie-esque falsetto melodies sitting upon neat basslines, rampant drums, and hooked-up with various clean to dirty guitar interjections
The dreamy lilting feel to fuzzy rock ‘I Want You To Give Me Enough Time’ makes you think of 1960’s San Francisco power pop like The Mamas and The Papas trying out overdriven alternative rock from the 1990’s, reverbed delayed guitar arpeggios over free form bass and drums. The blistering finale ‘Space Exploration Disaster’ seems to bring down the barriers using an intense garage rock experience.
Last year’s EP stirred the waters of anticipation for what was to come in the form of Human Ceremony as a debut album. Sunflower Bean sure hold their own as a closely bonding unit with an easing confidence, a band with an interesting future, that restores the hope that rock n roll is still alive and kicking for a long time to come.