Album Review: Sunflower Bean – Human Ceremony

By Jane Dickerson, Contributor

[Fat Possum; 2016]

Rating: 2/5

Key Tracks: “I Was Home,” “Human Ceremony”

Sunflower Bean’s debut full length, Human Ceremony, falls flat in more ways than one. It’s the type of album that the listener can get the general gist of after listening to the first two or three tracks, and that’s probably where Sunflower Bean should have left it.

The title track kicks off the album with instruments reminiscent of ’80s synth pop if it was slower and more melancholy. To Sunflower Bean’s credit, this is an interesting attempt.

In “Creation Myth,” which does employ semi-heavier instrument usage, drummer Jacob Faber sounds like he could be replaced by a pre-produced drum beat. Dual vocalists Julia Cumming (also on bass) and Nick Kivlen (also on guitar) have a dreamy, ethereal sound; however the lyrics are predictable and not even in a catchy way.

Though Kivlen’s vocal input is unimpressive, his guitar riffs are a constant in most every song and actually give this record some redemption. “I Was Home” sounds similar to an edgier, more psychedelic version of a Matt and Kim song (which is hard to imagine because it doesn’t work well, quite frankly).

At their best, Sunflower Bean’s instrumentals sound similar to bands like Beach Fossils, employing the same type of lo-fi feel with heavier guitar. Human Ceremony seems to be trying too hard both stylistically and musically, and not ultimately selling the ’80s-esque persona it seems to want to.

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