It’s hard to know what to do with Sunflower Dead and their self-titled debut, although there are a few ideas on my mind that range from breaking into peals of overpowering laughter (again) to locating the nearest wastebasket.
The band was constructed by ex-Droid guitarist Jamie Teissere and built with the talents of Michael (vocals, piano, accordion), Jaboo (guitar), Luis Gascon (bass), and Jimmy Schultz (drums).
After loading their shopping carts thanks to a sale on obsolete Hot Topic attire and applying make-up accordingly to offer that “aloof but perchance interested in casual encounters” look, Sunflower Dead toured with such luminaries as Five Finger Death Punch and Evanescence.
Sunflower Dead came soon after, recorded presumably via time machine at Temple Studios with Christian Olde Wolbers.
The approach is serious, but the band is nothing short of a joke from 2000. With a clumsy fusion of shouting and flavourless singing, Michael and Co. provide pitiful harmonies, emaciated guitars, chunky bass, and paint-by-numbers drumming. When pulled together, Sunflower Dead manages songs about hate, rejection and other crucial topics cribbed from the Tumblr pages of 14-year-old girls caught between Bieber phases.
The record kicks open the doors of silliness with “Make Me Drown,” a track that bowls forward with a bloated lower end and chugga-chugga guitars that break just at the right moment for Michael’s whine. He mutates his vocals, blinking between feeble growls and a surprisingly crystal-clear intermediate tone.
“Wasted” lowers the bar further with a revoltingly trite refrain, more chugga-chugga and more flaccid vocals.
The same rudimentary design infects the entire album, bathed as it is in long-dead nü-metal diseases, but things go from dreadful to downright injurious when Sunflower Dead decides to cover The Police. Their version of “Every Breath You Take” is a sick joke from the past. Michael flaps away without a particle of self-awareness, even channeling Bon Jovi accidentally until the antiquated growling commences. Somewhere, Fred Durst is rocking out.
Other tracks, like the gulping “More Than a Habit,” do little to discourage the course of this calamity. And when “Starting Over Again” blows in with its inadvertent hair metal clichés, the marvel sinks in. Is this some extravagant joke, like the engagement of Avril Lavigne to Chad Kroeger? Or is this a mark of the End of Days, like the engagement of Avril Lavigne to Chad Kroeger?
What this all means may not matter in the end, though. With countless bands enjoying incomprehensible popularity and countless kids having never had the abortive joy of facing nu-metal the first time round, Sunflower Dead’s debut might just hit the mark. Laughter it is.