“Neo psychedelic for the digital age.” This is how Sunflower Bean introduce themselves. The three-piece, Long Island natives, have assembled fresh sounds on their debut Human Ceremony, which slip from somnambulant states in to delighted shimmies and back again. All this was put together – writing and recording of the album – in a mere seven days, as the band has candidly made public. That is a astonishingly speedy output from a band that have existed for just shy of three years.
The title track, and opener to the album, blushes with Nick Kivlen’s echoing guitar before Julia Cumming’s wafting bass and Jacob Faber’s steady drums join for a delicate harmony. With a bit more vivacity is the ‘2013’, in recognition of the year of the band’s formation.
The band have been pigeonholed with Sonic Youth, for their NYC connection, female fronted and rugged sound. However, Sonic Youth blurt disorder, whereas Sunflower Bean have a precision in the craft of Human Ceremony.
Take ‘Creation Myth’ and ‘Oh, I Just Don’t Know’. They are melancholic without too much sorrow. You get a sense that the band intended to make the gloom of these songs just perfectly. Whereas ‘I Was Home’ jolts in all directions with distortion aplenty, feedback foolery and a stunning final half consisting of a sharp solo from Kivlen, before a final riffage. This song encompasses the entirety of Human Ceremony.
Throughout the album, the guitars hark back to an overlooked style of melodic, jangling guitars, which early psychedelic bands such as Led Zep and T. Rex hold dear. This would make sense; Cummings has a T.Rex tattoo. The East Coast missed out on engraving their name on the first wave of psychedelic music. Maybe Sunflower Bean are seeking some redemption.