HUMAN CEREMONY by Sunflower Bean
Genre: Indie Rock, Psychedelic Rock
Favorite Tracks: “Human Ceremony,” “Wall Watcher,” “Creation Myth”
The moody psych-pop trio hailing from Brooklyn have opened for nearly every emerging DIY band in the indie borough, so it’s no surprise that their debut LP HUMAN CEREMONY succeeds in poking fun at the scene’s taxing efforts to layer shoegazey/post-rock with enough transcendent noise to power dozens of nitro-bohemian coffee collectives. The albums pounces from jagged, economical punk to meandering dream-wave, a scatty stockpile of tracks curated by college-aged Julia Cumming, Nick Kivlen, and Jacob Faber: an enterprising indie-rock trio itching to share the fruits of their record bin-sifting labors. HUMAN CEREMONY is a refined, ambrosial mashup of Velvet Underground’s beach-beatnik beginnings, Black Sabbath-esque gothic guitar grinds, and the indulgent grievances of The Smiths.
Chiming opener “Human Ceremony” plays like a wistful, alluring nod to cardinal shoegazers Slowdive and their revivalists DIIV, helmed by lead-singer/bassist Julia Cumming’s pristine soprano. Scintillating arpeggios, coupled with a porcelain synth backdrop, easily melds with lyrics reminiscent of Lewis Carroll fables. The playful and docile reverence of preexisting bands and genres is lucrative, topped off with heavily reverbed musical craftsmanship. It’s easy to spot the trio’s skilled musicianship amidst the album’s hazy production.
“Wall Watcher” is HUMAN CEREMONY’s agitated voyeuristic jam, a scuzzy tune that rings true to millennial social anxiety and our generation’s hedonistic bond with our smartphones: “What’s it like in your apartment when no one’s called you/When no one has called/You’re waiting for the phone cause you’re home alone/It’s never ringing now, it’s never ringing now.” Relatable lyrics careen against the fuzzed-out, guitar driven track, rendered sinister with its repetitive chorus,“Watching, watching, watching, watching you” (X18). Julia’s sweet, airy chords amplify the madness of the repetition, suggestive of her anguished eyeing of events broadcast secondhand from a static cell phone.
Prolonged tracks such as “Creation Myth” rely on frisky, antagonistic melodies to amp up a dry spell in lyrical enterprise. What begins as dream-pop explodes in a bout of proto-metal indulgence. Julia’s wistful tale of creation erupts in a big bang of Black Sabbath velocity, helmed by guitarist Kivlen and drummer Faber’s gristly and dramatic ad lib.
HUMAN CEREMONY is a well-labored debut for a young trio diving into the red sea that is the NY-based indie-rock community. In the struggle to put into practice the hefty record collection that preceded their formation, Sunflower Bean have succeeded in crate-digging their way through recording an album that broadcasts their knowledge of rock ‘n’ roll in an admirable fashion. HUMAN CEREMONY’s mission to educate manages to absolve its lack in originality.