At just 22-years-old, it’s strange to think that Julia Cumming, Jacob Faber and Nick Kivlen, the trio that together form Sunflower Bean, could produce an album brimming with influences from so long before their time. Having released their debut studio album, Human Ceremony, two years and two months ago, Twentytwo In Blue is reminiscent not only of more recent musicians, (The Black Keys and Haim), but also prominent names of the ’70s and ’80s such as ABBA, Fleetwood Mac, and Joan Jett. Co-produced and mixed by Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Jacob Portrait, the record clearly takes influence from a range of sources and demonstrates a development in the band’s distinct yet ever developing style.
Staying true to their rock-inspired roots and guitar band core status tracks such ‘Burn It’ and ‘Crisis Fest’ exude bold riffs and strong female vocals, evoking a sense of feminine power reminiscent of the messages spread by those classic artists whose influence you can hear so prominently throughout the album. In contrast, tracks ‘Twentytwo’ and ‘Memoria’ are packed full of harmonies and string sections, creating a more tender, less aggressive tone. The nostalgic lyrics of ‘Twentytwo’, “If I could do it I would stay young for you // we could live inside a place where we’d never have to face // all the people who disgrace us” act as a self-warning from the band who, despite their age, appear all too aware of their own mortality. Furthermore, tracks such as ‘Anyway You Like’ add a distant and dreamy tone to the record, the slick tangy guitar riffs just before the second verse creating a relaxed, summer-time vibe.
But it’s the classic mix of male/female vocals on tracks such as “Sinking Sands” that are so trademark to the group. Conveying a sense of innocence through their almost choral-like harmonies, these songs hark back to ‘Easier Said’ days and act to demonstrate that, although the band are progressing in both style and age, they will always be influenced by their own, nineteen-year-old selves.