joyful anarchy of a moving group
There was an uncomfortable feeling of unease about Sunflower Bean’s second album, “Twentytwo In Blue.” Released in 2018 amid much political turmoil, the troubled coming-of-age record saw the New York rock band struggle with their place in the world as they questioned relationships, role models and the rebellion. When it was released, they quickly discovered that they weren’t the only ones feeling so hopelessly frustrated (or frustrated and helpless).
As you’d expect, nothing in recent years has helped Sunflower Bean regain a sense of peace: new album ‘Headful Of Sugar’ is just as furious.
“TV drives me so crazy / NPR always tells me something wrong / Anything done in a boardroom goes straight to my head, singer Julia Cumming sneers on the scuzzy punk number ‘Baby Don’t Cry’. Elsewhere, the brooding, oppressive rock of “Roll The Dice” sees Sunflower Bean satirizing corporate greed, chanting “Nothing in this life is really free / I just want to win.”
Make no mistake, though – ‘Headful Of Sugar’ is never gloomy. The band created the record with a sense of “joyful anarchy,” they said, and the result is something raging with a wonderful sense of freedom. While previous records have been beautiful or delicate, there’s an infectious raw energy that runs through Sunflower Bean’s third album. “Tomorrow is not promised,” Cumming explained when the record was first announced. “Why not make a record that makes you want to dance?
“Who Put You Up To This” draws the listener into this evolved form of Sunflower Bean, a growling folk-rock song that soon switches the wheel to an incredibly funky guitar line, while the urgent “In Flight” flirts with small-town nihilism but ultimately exudes a dizzying sense of escapism that would make Gorillaz proud. After that, Sunflower Bean really lets loose.
“Beat The Odds” draws inspiration from 2000s indie, “Post Love” is pure disco-pop while the title track is a rumbling R&B track cut with screaming electric guitar and Ray Guy synths. The lyrics are equally daring, as the band remains resolutely upbeat throughout. “I don’t care what tomorrow thinks / Today I’m totally mine,Cumming sings on the chirpy emo banger ‘I Don’t Have Control Sometimes’.
On ‘Twentytwo In Blue’, Sunflower Bean was terrified of the future, but ‘Headful Of Sugar’ sees the band more confident and in control. Using those feelings of helplessness as fuel for the fire, this album is full of strength, empowerment, resilience and joy.
Release date: May 6
Record company: lucky number