Saturday, May 14, 2022

Sunflower Bean is full of rage on ‘Headful of Sugar’

Brooklyn rock trio Sunflower Bean has returned with their long-awaited third album, ‘Headful of Sugar’

The usually mellow band has delivered an explosive rock album filled with gleeful anarchy towards the modern world. In 2018, the group released an album full of uncertainty, something that made listeners feel connected to the feeling of frustration, helplessness, and fear of the future. 

Now four years later, with even less peace in the world, the group has released an album full of fury that rages on with a wonderful sense of freedom. Being a group known for their live performances, they stated they wrote the album imagining the clubs and festivals that they missed so dearly and how they “feel very different than who we’ve been, yet more ourselves than ever.”

The album is a beautiful story of growth while navigating the agony and ecstasy of contemporary American life. This third album is raw in comparison to their previous soft, delicate sound; ‘Headful of Sugar’ is designed to be played loud. When first announcing the record, vocalist and bassist Julia Cumming explained, “Tomorrow is not promised. Why not make a record that makes you want to dance?”

The album opener and lead single ‘Who Put You Up To This?’ eases listeners and fans into this new sound. The track shows the band’s evolution, going from a rumbling folk-rock number to a raging, funky riff, and feels very 80s-inspired. ‘In Flight’ tells a romance story, with guitarist Nick Kivlen taking the lead vocal. This track flirts with the fine line of small-town nihilism and a giddy sense of escapism. Kivlen states the vision for the song is “meeting a lover, running away together, and entering a dangerous new world. It’s less safe but also less suffocating.” The entire song sounds like a firelit dream, still lingering with traces of the old Sunflower Bean. The next track, ‘Otherside’, is where the album truly starts to let loose. The psychedelic number is a slow burn that builds to a point where the listener will feel the urge to start running.

Following up is ‘Roll the Dice’, a moody, oppressive rock song that satirizes corporate greed, screaming, “Nothing in this life is really free / I just want to win.” The title track dabbles back into psychedelic funk, pairing wailing electric guitars and synths with bold, optimistic lyrics. Another single, ‘I Don’t Have Control Sometimes’, is an emo banger about self-assurance in the style of The Cure.

Anarchy rages on in the punk track ‘Baby Don’t Cry’. The lyrics scream, “The TV makes me so mad / NPR is always telling me something bad / Everything made in a boardroom gets pumped straight into my head”‘Post Love’ is a fun disco-pop track, the real dancey moment on the album. 

The album closes with ‘Moment in the Sun’, the most authentic pop song about recognizing what and who is important in one’s life and appreciating the little moments. The lyrics are about a romance and a sweet moment of realising that you have everything you dreamed of. It perfectly encompasses the beauty of this album: the growth of Sunflower Bean. 


‘Headful of Sugar’ journeys from disillusionment and confusion to self-awareness, touching on the rage of living in a late-stage capistalistic society destroying you. It’s a beautiful, angry and honest sign of the times. The album sees the band more confident and more in control. Using those feelings of helplessness as fuel for the fire, this album is full of strength, empowerment, resilience, and joy.


Hope Orr


Image: ‘Headful of Sugar’ Official Album Cover (PRESS)

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