Barely a year ago, Sunflower Bean had shown they were ready to evolve their sound and say something new, and now they’re looking back. Though it’s easy to say Sunflower Bean are abandoning everything they set forth from Twentytwo In Blue on this new album, it seems more like they’re giving themselves something more dynamic to play with live. Given this album is too close old rock hits, it still provides some fun moments and perhaps maybe a good vent Sunflower Bean to go back to exploring their sound.
Joan Jett’s fury is alive and well on “King of The Dudes” where Julia Cumming roars through verses against bro mentalities. While the sentiment itself is refreshing, the song can often feel very derivative of handfuls of seventies rock bands. Though there are some amazing riff and production notes, this honestly drags the track down most because of how much Sunflower Bean had seemed to really broaden their sonic world on Twentytwo In Blue. There is definitely some fun to be had here but it’s not relentless enough in this regard to truly justify the throwback.
This kind of energy is why “Come For Me” is so easy to dance to, and sing along to on that note. With Prince-like funk tones in the grooves and a lot of bounce to the guitars as whole, this track has party single written all over it. Strangely enough, there’s definitely a kind of “Born This Way” (or “Express Yourself”) tone to the song that is perhaps distracting at first. On repeat listens however, this kind of pop lineage helps the song hold on and feel inspiring rather than needlessly heady.
“Fear City” actually strikes a remarkable middle-ground, and tackles its glam-rock with a lot of colour and production its kind of riffs never got. Cummins takes this opportunity be a kind of power-pop superstar while the song as a whole tells a story about how much we trap ourselves. This kind of self-reflexive break from the norm is cool, and subtly showcases the band’s sunny palette of sounds to great ends. Even with some off-feeling, choppy notes, the track as a whole helps chart a kind of new line through the world of retro-rock revivalists.
In Sunflower Bean’s long tradition of grimy stompers, “The Big One” (perhaps a self-aware title) drives fast while playing around with some strange vocal techniques. Admittedly the track does pull a little from “Wall Watcher” at times but ultimately feels like a kind all-or-nothing shredder that Sunflower Bean has crafted purely to wail on stage. Intensity pure and simple, this track shows the band are ready to get more aggressive, but perhaps aren’t ready to push quite as far into their experimental sounds just yet.
Words by Owen Maxwell