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ATP! Album Review: Never Shout Never – Sunflower

In the past, the basically-one-man-powerhouse that is Never Shout Never has shown that the band has more range than a sniper rifle on top of Tower Bridge. In fact, though the rockier sounds NSN has previously tackled may not be the favorite of the artist, it's the maturity of the music, the room for evolution and the breaking of the chains that genre forces on artists that makes NSN a pretty damn interesting thing to watch.

First track ‘New Sound’ continues that expansion and experimentation. It’s pop at its core, but elements of funk and ska are close enough to the surface to trick the mind into thinking it’s listening to something else. This base-heavy opener is immediately followed by a harmonica-and-all Bob Dylan flavor in ‘Good Times.’ As with ‘New Sound,’ the common style is mixed with a variety of unexpected elements, and, especially with the contrast between the tracks, it works.

Sunflower is undeniably different. It’s a foray into the unknown that is equal parts compilation and concept album. The mix of genres continues throughout, with homages to classic rock, ambient pop and even blues leaving their mark. Though there are several moments where the lyrics on this record fall flat, the album’s melody and arrangements are so well done that it doesn’t end up being the major detriment it would have been on a less ambitious work.

The problem with having such a vast scope is that it’s difficult to make a record cohesive. In this case, it does feel like Sunflower is one, flowing album, but the disparity of genre features in each of the tracks, as impressive as they are, could prove a little tiring for the casual listener. As a whole however, this is a great effort, that obviously took a great deal of both imagination and hard work, and even if this wasn’t a fun listen, that would be something to commend.


Edward Strickson

Sunflower is available now via Loveway Records.

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