“Oh, it’s a very short, ridiculous story. Me versus the rest of the band.” You might think that statement, made by Sunflower Bean vocalist/guitarist Nick Kivlen about their new single ‘I Hear Voices’ could be the kind of thing that would annoy the rest of the band.
Julia Cumming (vocals/bass): “He’s right. It’s about a fight we have in the car all the time.”
Jacob Faber (drums): “What will happen is we’ll quote a really straightforward fact, something that cannot be disputed in any way. And then, somehow, Nick will find a way.”
Out on July 24 via new label Fat Possum, this is the first new material Sunflower Bean have released since their jangling, pacey debut EP ‘Show Me Your Seven Secrets’, self-recorded over a year ago. It’s a swirling, multi-paced rocker that begins slow and sludgy, a little like Led Zep playing the riff from ‘Children Of The Revolution’ by T-Rex, before cranking up so Kivlen – a could-be genius guitarist who in the past has been likened to everyone from Johnny Marr to Thurston Moore – can let rip at full pelt.
Sharing vocals one verse at a time, Kivlen and Cumming make a compelling front duo. There’s a definite yin-yang thing going on, with the pendulum here swinging heavily between psych wig outs and classic horror iconography (Cumming’s layered vocals on the chorus are pure Hitchcock). Underneath it all is a sense of burgeoning songwriting prowess that suggests they know exactly how to marry compelling storytelling with giant-sized riffs (not to mention the odd line that’s tailor-made for t-shirts/tote’s – “Sometimes the truth is a joke!” they goad, almost Strummer-like).
“Nick is like loads of different personalities,” says Cumming of her co-vocalist. “He’s off the wall and will say whatever. So the song is literally about these debates we have. Nick’s verse is about whatever his whims are, and them I’m disputing it.”
On the strength of this, it’s something Sunflower Bean should explore deeper.
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