ALBUM REVIEW: Sunflower Bean / Human Ceremony

New York based psych rock band, Sunflower Bean, just released one of the albums I was looking forward to the most this year and it really lived up to my expectations. This album is one of the best albums I’ve heard so far this year and I hope you give it a listen too.

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Photo by Ruby June

The first track on Sunflower Bean’s debut is the title track, “Human Ceremony”. The track opens up with the familiar chorus covered guitar of Sunflower Bean. It also shows us that Sunflower Bean has departed a little bit from the heavier sound that they had on their EP, Show Me Your Seven Secrets. The track is pretty great but the only problem I have is that Nick Kivlen’s vocals do seem a bit out of place.

The next track is one of my favorites on the album and it’s titled “Come On”. The mix of the frantic instrumentation and Julia Cumming’s frantic yet floating vocals makes for a wonderful combination. Kivlen joins her later in the track as they build up the suspense that leads them into the last chorus.

The third song on the album is the familiar song, “2013”, which is one of my favorite Sunflower Bean songs and just one of my flat out favorite songs. For the album, it a got a reboot that differs from the EP version. Although I prefer the rougher sounds of the EP version, this version is much more polished and really feels like the song has evolved over time.

“Easier Said” was the second single off of Human Ceremony and is another one of my favorites on the album. It was really the first song we heard off of the album that pointed us to the new, more broad and diverse, direction that they would go with the album. The song is extremely catchy to the point that ever since I heard it, it’s been stuck in my head at least once a day.

Up next is “This Kind of Feeling”, and it’s not one of my favorite tracks on the album. It’s still a pretty good song but it feels a bit weak compared to the rest of the songs on the album. I do really like the guitar on the track though, especially towards the end of the song.

The sixth song is another one of my favorites on the album and it’s called “I Was Home”. Lyrics that are easy to relate to along with a seriously killer guitar part, this track is definitely a highlight of the album. It’s another song that gets constantly stuck in my head and will probably stick in yours.

“Creation Myth” is the next song on the album and it starts out pretty calm with a really nice sounding guitar and, as the title implies, explores a creation myth. This song isn’t one that has a slow build up to its climax but rather hits you in the face with it and after it quickly calls down.

The next song is the first single we got from the album and it’s called “Wall Watcher”. The song is quick and distorted psych rock at it’s best. Repeated lyrics and distorted guitar really make the song one that you can completely rock out to over and over. It’s another one of the highlights of the album.

The ninth song on the album is “I Want You to Give Me Enough Time”. It’s a softer and more calm song compared to some of the other songs on the album but it still has Sunflower Bean’s distinctive sound. The synths weaved across the background are really a nice part of the song.

“Oh, I Just Don’t Know” is another one of my favorite songs on the album. It’s a simple song that still is delivered with such power. As Sunflower Bean contemplates their place in the world, you can’t help but to do it along with them.

As we reach the final song, “Space Exploration Disaster”, you can feel the album starting to come to a conclusion. It’s another one of my favorites on the album. As Kivlen and Cumming reach the final refrain of “Run away from the planet”, the song comes to a solid conclusion.

Overall, Sunflower Bean have crafted an amazing debut record and one of the best records I’ve heard so far this year. Although the album does have a few flaws, many more amazing points out rule them. Sunflower Bean has definitely created a great album and one you need to listen to.

OVERALL, HUMAN CEREMONY GETS AN 8.5/10

BUY HUMAN CEREMONY HERE

SEE SUNFLOWER BEAN IN A CITY NEAR YOU:

2/25 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom +
2/26 – Hanover, NH @ Bones Gate Fraternity +
2/27 – Cambridge, MA @ Middle East Club Upstairs +
2/28 – Montreal, QC @ Divan Orange w/ Deap Valley
3/1 – Toronto, ON @ Smiling Buddha +
3/2 – Detroit, MI @ Majestic Café +
3/3 – Chicago, IL @ Schubas Tavern +
3/4 – Lakewood, OH @ Mahall’s 20 Lanes +
3/5 – Ithaca, NY @ Ithaca College
3/6 – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie +
3/10 – Washington D.C. @ Black Cat w/ Mass Gothic
3/11 – Durham, NC @ The Pinhook
3/12 – Atlanta, GA @ Aisle 5 w/ YUCK
3/15 – 3/20 – Austin, TX @ SXSW 2016
3/21 – Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom w/ YUCK
3/24 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo *
3/25 – La Jolla, CA @ Che Café *
3/26 – Santa Cruz @ The Crepe Place *
3/27 – San Francisco, CA @ Brick & Mortar Music Hall *
3/29 – Seattle, WA @ The Vera Project *
3/30 – Vancouver, BC @ Cobalt *
3/31 – Portland, OR @ Analog Café Lounge *
4/1 – Nampa, ID @ Flying M *
4/2 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court *
4/3 – Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge *
4/5 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry *
4/6 – Madison, WI @ The Frequency *
4/7 – Bloomington, IN @ The Bishop *
4/8 – Columbus, OH @ Rumba Café
4/9 – Pittsburg, PA @ The Smiling Moose; Upstairs
4/14 – Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery
4/15 – 4/16 – Phuzz Phest

+ w/ Honduras
* w/ Weaves

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