The second full-length effort from the New York trio has been long awaited. Their first EP released three years ago, gained them a cohort of dedicated fans who flocked and followed them towards the release of their first album, ‘Human Ceremony’, a year later – the catalyst for Sunflower Bean’s rising level of success. Julia, Nick and Jacob have grown up, and so with them has their sound. ‘Twentytwo in Blue’ is by far their most polished effort thus far, lyrically their most mature work to date and it is all the better for it.
The vibe of the album is summed up in the title; all three band members are now twenty-two years old and they are clearly feeling dissatisfied with their transition into adulthood. The ‘blue’ element of the album couldn’t be clearer – melancholy is continuously embedded into the lyrics, juxtaposed by the layers of carefree melodies and dreamy guitar lines. Ultimately, its soft core is really what translates the darker subtext of each song.
Stand out tracks are not difficult to find but almost definitely a favourite, and probably yours too, is ‘Twentytwo’. With it’s poetically inspired haunting refrain of ‘I do not go quietly into the night that calls me/even when I’m alone’, it is easily a triumph. ‘Crisis Fest’ is vastly different, an anti-establishment anthem with lyrics like ‘we brought you into this place/you know we can take you out’, it is evident that this track parallels the current political angst amongst the young.
This theme of rebellion carries weight throughout the album, emphasised on ‘Human For’, whose message isn’t quite as clear as ‘Crisis Fest’. With lyrics like ‘I don’t need your religion’ and ‘I need the sound of the drums, the drums’ the band are setting their own agenda, inviting the listener to follow their religion of music. This shouty track is followed immediately by the soothing ‘Anyway You Like’. Its dream-like qualities, such as the gentle vocals make it a beautifully crafted, sleepy lullaby – a complete contrast to the anger of other tracks on the album.
Whilst this album may be more than a bit cliched, it is fun to listen to precisely because its creators had the confidence to make it anyway. ’Twentytwo In Blue’ upholds an aura of political frustration, filtered through a veil of sugary sweet tunes and fuzzy guitars. While it may be mostly a call-to-arms, it still begs for you to throw on your dancing shoes.
Words by Sophie Shrive.