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CD of The Week

Week of 4/23/18

    Sunflower Bean - Twentytwo In Blue (Mom + Pop)

    Living through the ages of 17 to 22 can seem like an eternity, and one's personal choices and focus tend to shift so much that the butterfly that comes out often looks nothing like the caterpillar that went in. We're talking about high school to post-college which, for many people, is the biggest controlled period of adjustment in their lives. Sunflower Bean, now all at the ripe old age of 22, have recently released their second album, aptly titled Twentytwo in Blue. The new album shows a growth and cognizant shift in style for the young band, whose early slew of psychedelic singles led them to a debut album with a refined style of dream-pop and shoegaze.

    But Twentytwo finds a band evolving yet again, where a similar journey for most bands would take a career. It's almost like the band discovered mom & pop's old record collection, fell in love with Fleetwood MacBlondie and Joan Jett and decided that is for them. The production on Twentytwo is cleaner, the sound is punchy, harmonies are complexly layered, and every nuance is precisely calculated. There is also confident growth in both Nick Kivlen and Julia Cumming's vocals, which mix and weave together like never before.

    The album kicks off with the rocking "Burn It," and maintains the listener's attention by intelligently switching back and forth between rock and smooth AOR tracks. The stand out songs "Twenty Two" and "Memoria" feature Cumming's floating Stevie Nicks-like vocals and are juxtaposed with the raspy, power-pop song "Crisis Fest." Kivlen's vocals showcase a dynamic range of styles from the sedated, echo-y "I Was A Fool" to the carefree slacker style on "Sinking Sands," to poppy and harmonized "Puppet Strings."

    With all of the experiences, heavy touring, and style dabbling Sunflower Bean has gone through over their short 5-year existence, it goes without saying that they have a strong groundwork laid in to have a long and interesting career. The only big question left to ask is regarding this current stage of metamorphosis: is it their final stage, or is there something yet to come. But really, each stage has its own unique qualities, so it's probably best not to rush things, and enjoy what the process creates.

    Review by Shepard Ritzen

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