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Human Ceremony

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Album Review

The Brooklyn-based trio Sunflower Bean (singer/guitarist Nick Kivlen, singer/bassist Julia Cumming, and drummer Jacob Faber) play with the fire and enthusiasm of youth. Their debut album, Human Ceremony, is full of rampaging psych pop, sticky sweet indie pop and some moments that seem like a mashup of X, Blondie, Tame Impala, and the Blake Babies. For such a young band, they are in full control of their sound. Kivlen conjures up murky riffs, spiraling leads, and chiming arpeggios out of his guitar, each song flitting from one classic sound to another. Faber holds down the beat steadily, never letting things drift off or get weighed down by riffage. Cumming's bass playing is propulsive and restrained, her vocals are one of the group's strengths. The pure tone of her voice fits well alongside scruffy guitars or heavy thumping drums, and when the band shifts into pop mode, like on the jangling '90s heartbreak ballad "Easier Said," she brings a lot of heartsick yearning to the table. The three members of the band blend together perfectly, even Kivlen's yelping vocals, which could have been a distraction, are perfectly balanced, and the songs where he and Cumming duet sound like alternate world Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood epics. "I Was Home" is the best of these; with its slacker vibe and huge guitar hooks it sounds like a lost grunge-era gem. The whole album is full of great songs like this, whether it's the rambling witch-psych of "This Kinda Feeling" or the slowly unspooling drama found on "Creation Myth," the trio are adept at blending catchy melodies and interesting arrangements. A handful of the songs are good enough that they'll be stuck in listener's heads right away and will prove hard to shake. Check out the insistent "Wall Watcher" or the sweetly peaceful "I Want You to Give Me Enough Time," for examples. Even the songs that seem a little derivative don't suffer for it thanks to the energy they bring. Human Ceremony is an impressive debut from a band who seem positioned to make many more excellent albums if they can continue to do such a good job of mining the past for gold and revamping it in their own fashion like they do so well here.

Customer Reviews

They're AWESOME!!!!!

Everything about this band is incredible. Best new rock band in years and I'm not just saying that because Nick, the guitarist, is my second cousin. THEY ROCK!!!
Cousin John in Hawai'i

I love them

Just beautiful and haunting.


ALL their songs are beautiful! I especially love the "Easier Said." I'm going to pre-order this album like right now..


Formed: August, 2013 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '10s

Marked by two vocalists who often take turns within a song, Sunflower Bean is an indie pop trio out of Brooklyn. Formed in August 2013 with singer/guitarist Nick Kivlen, singer/bassist Julia Cumming, and drummer Jacob Faber -- all teenagers at the time -- they quickly earned attention for their alternately rock-edged and dreamy guitar tunes, and were invited to open on tours for the likes of DIIV and the Vaccines beginning shortly after their first EP, Show Me Your Seven Secrets, arrived in October...
Full Bio
Human Ceremony, Sunflower Bean
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Customer Ratings