Is Sunflower Bean an indie pop cliche?
It’s hard to ignore their hipster appearances – singer/guitarist Nick Kivlen tries his best to look like a young Dylan, drummer Jacob Faber channels the facial hair of Spinal Tap’s Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer, of course) and singer/bassist/model Julia Cumming reminds all and sundry of a variety of blonde rock goddesses of time past (Nico? Marianne Faithful? Debbie Harry?).
Thankfully, according to the band themselves, they are not interested in being either ‘hipster’ or ‘indie’ but rather take a leap towards rock ’n’ roll itself! Thus, it’s out with the distorted new-gaze sound popular with other Brooklyn-based outfits and instead make a play for 60s folk-rock (The Byrds) by way of authentic 80s indie pop (Felt) and filtered through the lenses of the Velvet Underground (a common ground) and the results are illuminating.
The fact that both Kivlen and Cumming sing, allows for intriguing vocal combinations even as the music alternates between atmospheric guitar passages and hard driving rock – evoking also at its core early psychedelia.
Songs like the title track, “2013” and “This Kind of Feeling” simple jump out at the listener as something tangibly different for what (sadly) passes for indie rock in 2016.
And by the time one gets the closer Space Exploration Disaster, we certainly have lift off, with Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive” and “Astronomy Domine” providing the rocket fuel as Sunflower Bean breaches the stratosphere.
Another welcome addition to the New Rock ’n’ Roll canon, Sunflower Bean demonstrates that they have studied all the essential rock albums from the 1960s to the 1980s well enough to construct an authentic psychedelic-folk-rock masterpiece.