Sunflower Bean: ‘Twentytwo in Blue’

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To understand just how much that the Brooklyn trio has grown in the past two years, look no further than the cover of the band’s terrific new album, Twentytwo In Blue. The three members of the band are spotlighted in the middle of the picture; a cover that is more confident and much less cluttered than the band’s 2016 debut Human Ceremony. On this record, the band takes tremendous strides towards a truly memorable and distinct sound.

An immediate highlight of the record is lead singer Julia Cumming’s newfound confidence and enhanced role, which puts her commanding yet soothing vocals to the forefront. The delivery of her voice allows the band’s classic rock sound to come off more sincere as seen on the stomping “Puppet Strings” as Cumming elevates the song’s impact.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Jacob Portrait’s crystal clear production gives the band more clarity and greater punch on each track. From the initial moments of album opener “Burn It,” there is a more grandiose and powerful sound. At times on Human Ceremony, Sunflower Bean seemed lost in their own haze and volume. There is great confidence and poise on this new album that sees the band fully aware and in control of how they want to sound.

The album’s change in tone and breezy 40 minute runtime offers a genuine classic folk-rock offering while still feeling fresh. At times, the band’s youth and search for a sound is still evident as seen on the cringe-worthy backing vocals on “Crisis Fest.” In these moments, the band comes off more as imitators rather than the real deal. However, as a whole the band’s shows tremendous promise and leaps towards a refined sound on this record.

Throughout Twentytwo In Blue, Julia Cummings remains fully in control, sounding much wiser than her meager 22 years of life lets on, especially on the title track “Twentytwo.”  Cumming’s strong vocals intertwine perfectly with jangling guitars reminiscent of 70’s folk rock, but with a newfound confidence and assurance. Her gorgeous lyrics are also put on display on the sunny “Memoria” as she sings “You are the mother who turns in her sleep.” This shows great attention to detail.

The album closes on a wonderful note with the gorgeous “Oh No, Bye Bye” as Nick Kivlen’s deadpan singing fuses tremendously with Cumming’s sunny vocals. As is seen in the rest of the album as well, this song shows the band’s grand development sonically as the song is bursting with intriguing layers of melody. Although at times Sunflower Bean’s youth is apparent, on Twentytwo in Blue, the band’s development within just one album is both astonishing and triumphant.

 8/10

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