Music review: Sunflower Bean

'Let's play some rock music.' It was a simple enough statement by Julia Cumming, bassist and lead singer of New Yorkers Sunflower Bean, but it was also a declaration of intent and an invitation to the audience to join them in an act of celebration.
Jacob Faber, Julia Cumming and Nick Kivlen of Sunflower BeanJacob Faber, Julia Cumming and Nick Kivlen of Sunflower Bean
Jacob Faber, Julia Cumming and Nick Kivlen of Sunflower Bean

Stereo, Glasgow ****

Strictly speaking, this appealing trio play rock’n’roll shot through with a pop attitude which is much more fun than plain old rock music, and they have sterling NYC precedents to draw on from The Ramones to Blondie to The Strokes.

With The Runaways-style rasp in Cumming’s tone, her co-vocalist and guitarist Nick Kivlen’s classic US rock’n’roll drawl and their overall relaxed charisma, it would be tempting to hail this group as effortlessly cool if that didn’t imply a certain aloofness which Sunflower Bean entirely dispense with.

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Instead, they are a loveable bunch, striking up the infectious stomping rhythm of Come On – a classic rock’n’roll title if ever there was one – bringing some swing and swagger to boogie number Puppet Strings and some mild rabble-rousing on Crisis Fest which was performed more with impish rebel fun than righteous rage.

Cummings has been performing since her early teens, first in quirky indie pop outfit Supercute! and those pop roots came to the fore on the dreamy mid-paced title track of new album Twentytwo In Blue and a lovely, delicate cover version of Neil Young’s Harvest Moon which was wholly unexpected, given what had gone before in their short, sharp and sweet set.