Sunflower Bean release their debut full-length album, Human Ceremony. Apparently the band decided to deal with the question of what sort of music to make by resolving all their different interests (dream-pop, heavier rock forms etc.) into one sound. The results sound pretty damn fully-formed, so good on them. Released by Fat Possum.
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Here it is: the record that should be the year’s most unremarkable (Sunflower Bean literally sounds like a band name that was made up by someone parodying the Brooklyn music scene, are they from Brooklyn, turns out yes, they are, how about that), but for which I have many remarks. The record that should probably do the least for me and yet it’s shifted my internal monologue a few times. Why is ‘Human Ceremony’ simultaneously so good and so miscalculated?
Sunflower Bean use ‘Human Ceremony’ to take a psychedelic residency of sparkling, clean-cut guitar lines and locked in drums, but they also sound like they wouldn’t mind being an orgcore band in an alternate reality: between its utterly gorgeous guitar figures, “Come On” has unhinged vox that recall punk revisionists Shopping goading us with their “you heard me right!” taunts. Both styles are good, and it’s kinda relieving that Sunflower Bean put a slight hint of grit into their otherwise shiny psych product, but the songwriting gets mixed up: “2013” would be far better if the lyrics were sung straight up rather than dueted like a One Word At A Time school game. Between the organ synths, rising guitar riffs and sparkly post-punk chords, tracks like these are totally overstuffed with ideas they don’t really need: I get it, because psych rock is extra, but this crew are making pop music at heart, so… reel it back.
Hilarious name aside, I’m ready to let Sunflower Bean in. Tracks like “This Kind Of Feeling” have psychedelic propulsion in abundance, with subliminal grooving basslines, beautified motifs and the occasional burst of hard rock jamming (which, again, brings to mind some aged punk band a la Television, in the midst of a psych good time). I want these moments -- the ones where they want to be a euphoric fucking band -- over their love of Ty Segall (“I Was Home”, “Wall Watcher”) or their adoration of full-to-the-brim music, man. This is a more-than-promising, way overboard debut, but give me the clean psych jams, or give me your quiet attempt at a Low song (“Oh, I Just Don’t Know”), and I’ll turn your shaky LP into a wonderful EP.
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- Human Ceremony by Sunflower Bean
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