While wisdom comes with age, no one’s ever said when you can start gaining it. Though they’ve been touted as one of the youngest power-bands in indie music right now, Sunflower Bean has always managed to make music with the subtlety and finesse of the band’s that influenced them. Though they definitely show where they’re pulling from on this record, it rarely holds them back from making some of the best rock music around.
The lush production fills the record with a sizzle and vintage pop that matches the band’s ecstatic writing on every beat. On songs like “Burn It” they really use this to amp up their energy on even the most straightforward song, and in turn make it something thematic and powerful. The band’s finesse of pop and rock in equal parts make each new verse feel rich and interesting. This makes the clear Fleetwood Mac influence on songs like “I Was A Fool” feel all too appropriate, as Sunflower Bean create new iconic moments out of another band’s silhouette. The absolutely killer grooves and mixing on the track’s subtle riffs really make this a song that soars because of its little details.
While you may assume a soft synth ballad on “Twentytwo” the band open things up to a rush of bass and delicate vocal hooks that dance around the track. As the track hits the chorus, you can really hear that Sunflower Bean have hit their stride as a band that can craft a real feeling in a track rather than solely melodies. Joan Jett attitude roars on “Crisis Fest” as Sunflower Bean tears out on their first taste of protest music, with all the harmonies and raw guitar work to make it powerful. Their mastery of fun riffs however cuts through in every pre-chorus, and gives the song just as much groove as it does energy.
“Memoria” rings out with a glistening retro vibe that makes every little guitar lick and drum note feel full and bold. Though it sounds the part and has the right feel, the song’s less melodic flow keeps it from standing out. The band is at their most heavy and pounding on “Puppet Strings” as they pull in some Black Keys-like production to make their rhythm section feel more punchy. While this sound in itself feels overdone, the band’s exuberant energy carries the song and keeps it bouncy.
There’s a beautiful magic to “Only A Moment” as they open up their sound for a more echo-laden wash of vocals and swing. As Sunflower Bean slowly layers voices and guitars into the track, the final swells of life in the choruses are more and more euphoric. They switch back to the high-octane gears however for “Human For” with a raucous and explosive energy that’s youthful and dangerous. With their take-no-prisoners approach to the track, they prove to everyone why they need to be seen live.
Through its slow-burning and trippy synth notes, “Any Way You Like” brings the band’s unique voices through a vintage pop track. Though it does feel more like an interpretation more than anything original, it’s a great song nonetheless. Alternatively, “Sinking Sands” captures the sounds of sixties bands while putting a swing and sense of detail into the writing that would never have existed. Their deep Fleetwood Mac-like harmonies shine here as well to really flesh out their alternate approach to sounds long gone. “Oh No, Bye Bye” refocuses on all the hooks and memorable lyrics as the vocals bounce back and forth, while providing a conversation within all the melodies.
Words by Owen Maxwell