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EP Review: Sunflower Bean - King Of The Dudes


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New York’s Sunflower Bean havein their previous two EP’s presented an indecisiveness on their sound; their debut album Human Ceremony breathed with breezy jangly indie, while Twentytwo departed into the nostalgic longing for 70s stadium rock.

Image courtesy of Sonic PR

EP King Of The Dudes ventures further into the rabbit hole of 70s rock, but this time armed with raspier vocals and an abundance of power chords. Though this sees the trio finding buoyancy in their sound, their adherence to cliché lets the EP become a frustratingly forgettable release. For a vibrant band who have the potential to create something captivating, it's disappointing.

From the get-go with opener ‘King Of The Dudes’, the record becomes a volcanic eruption of assertive egotism, with lyrics such as “I know what I want and I know how to get it.” Vocalist Julia Cumming’s altercation of her vocal style is a good move; her savage, raspy tones sitting somewhere between the incendiary bite of Courtney Love and erotic sweetness of Debbie Harry. This works to Sunflower Bean's advantage, adding more bite and sustenance to the sunny background of guitars and jolting bass line of the track. Although it sounds like an indistinguishable track from a 90s teen movie; it becomes quickly forgettable even after listening on repeat for days.

‘Come For Me’ is an unashamedly corny euphemism which sees Cummings taking control in her sexual liberation, putting on the act of icy cold heartbreaker; “I’m looking for a handsome destruction so take me to your car.” Its initial explosion of drums streamlines into an equally sexual guitar lick, which showcases the more impressive use of the instrument on the EP.

Moving into a more muted area is 'Fear City', sung from the point of view of a pining lover, “In Fear City waiting for you to come back”. The track is tinged with the 70s Americana of motels and garish neon lights, with unapologetically meta lyrics; “You get dressed without me there, because you don’t want me to care”. It showcases Cumming’s vocal range to the best ability, which oozes with a rawness that didn’t come through on previous projects.

Closer ‘The Big One’ percolates with seediness, and despite its scuzzy guitars and Cumming’s venomous spit (that showcases her finest vocal work on the EP), it reads like the end credits for what the band could become. Rounding up the twenty minutes, 'The Big One' feels decisively small, and devoid of any actual sustenance.

King Of The Dudes feels like Sunflower Bean reaching out for arena-filling tracks, but instead landing themselves the label of an expensive wedding band. It possesses the glamour of 70s rock and the vocal grit of Courtney Love, but sometimes feels like a parody of itself. We can only hope the band will learn to take the best aspects of past gone eras and morph them with their own original ideas, to create something slightly less forgettable.

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