Sunflower Bean turn Twentytwo in Blue

Twentytwo in BlueGet your party hats out; each member of Sunflower Bean has reached the ripe old age of 22. With it, they’ve released their second album, Twentytwo in Blue, as a commemorative birthday present. The New York trio’s debut in 2016, Human Ceremony, blended a whole host of influences into their indie rock style and two years later, they have delivered yet another indie rock masterpiece.

With age comes maturity, and that’s evidenced in their latest output. Terse guitar riffs are jammed with dreamy melodies and warming vocals, developing a more refined and established album. Their soundscape is polished, with tighter guitar jangles and punchier vocals than we’ve seen previously. There’s less of the teen angst that we first saw in Human Ceremony, replaced by raw emotion, protest and experience.

The vulnerability of the trio finds a voice with “Memoria”, detailing the harshness of dragging up the past with soft and subtle reflection that only comes with an experienced reality. “Only A Moment” shares the same beautiful delicacy with reassuring sentiments. But nestled between these two tracks is “Puppet Strings”, kicking off with a killer riff, reminiscent of The Black Keys. You’re bundled with a real mix of contrasts, as emotions and tempos collide leading you one way, then the next. The rambunctious mix of influences and genres we first saw in Human Ceremony hasn’t gone too far away, though with more of a direction this time.

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“I Was A Fool” channels Fleetwood Mac with gorgeous vocals emphasised by the soft American twang of Julia Cumming’s NYC accent. The interplay of vocals between Julia Cumming and Nick Kivlen get a full workout here, accentuating the beauty of the vocal pairing. There's only a few tracks on Twentytwo in Blue that we see the two interchange like this, with much more of a reliance on Cumming’s sometimes softly, sometimes feisty vocal this time around.

What’s clear throughout is that this journey of age the NYC trio have transpired on naturally bleeds into the album. Drummer, Jacob Faber, recently said of the album that “it almost starts in a clearing and moves into a dense forest and then towards the end, in "Sinking Sands", they come back out into a clearing”. It’s a strong analogy for the kind of emergence into maturity and understanding that’s embedded into the depths of this album. If this is what 22 looks like to Sunflower Bean, I’m looking forward to the birthdays to come.

Release: 23rd March 2018, Lucky Number

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