By Erin Christie
Sunflower Bean—the stand-out New York band composed of members Julia Cumming, Nick Kivlen, and Jacob Faber—is finally back with their long-awaited comeback single, “Moment In The Sun.”
At the time the track was written just about two years ago, the band felt it was too much of a sonic departure from the rest of their repertoire (especially in comparison to their last, release, 2019’s punchy, punk anthem-riddled EP, King of the Dudes); therefore, it sat, dormant, ironically, away from the sun for months. With the amount of time that’s passed, though, “Moment In The Sun” recently re-entered the band’s line of sight: it’s lyrical material, which emphasizes the value of spending time with those we love, has become all the more relevant since we’ve entered a period where increased importance has been placed on connection (in light of a global pandemic). With that in mind, finally dusting the track off and releasing it as a stand-alone single felt almost necessary (and for that, I’m personally thankful).
The track chimes in with funky bass, toe-tapping riffing, and mesmerizing synths. Cumming’s vocals, angelic and mournful, express lyrics such as, “All that other noise is just a waste of time / You’re the only music on my mind,” making the track’s love-sick nature known. Holistically, it’s a poppy, light-hearted romp; a much-needed ray of sun amongst what has been an otherwise dreary existence in the group’s absence. It’s a sentimental love letter, introducing what could be a new era for the Big Apple’s own dynamic trio, especially noting its sonic independence from the rest of their discography.
The track’s stunning music video, directed by VMA-nominated directors Andy DeLuca and Sarah Eisman, carries the song’s themes and takes them up a notch. It finds Cumming accompanied by actor Marquis Rodriguez (of Ava DuVernay’s cutting biopic series on the Central Park Five, When They See Us), who she calls a close friend in real life. The two powerhouse presences come together to star in what can be described as both a beautiful, aesthetically pleasing rom-com of their own making, and a devastating story of longing and loss.
Throughout its runtime, pops of color decorate each scene, from Cumming’s peachy pink locks to Rodriguez’s luminescent floral shirt, the greens of the trees, the oranges of butterfly wings, and the bright blue car they drive in. Imagery such as this stands out against film grain and crystal distortions; zoomed-in close-ups and fast-paced transitions.
Beyond its amazing cinematography, the video’s dualistic structure is what makes it truly impressive, as it perfectly reflects the feelings and thoughts many of us have been holding onto whilst enduring time away from our loved ones. It capitalizes on the isolating nature of quarantine and the longing we’ve all been enduring by creating two separate worlds, one where Cumming is joined by Marquis and they engage in various loving “moments in the sun,” and another where she’s completely alone and trapped inside a house. The scenes from each world weave in and out of each other but never overlap, making it known that they happen in separate timelines—one is current, and the other is but a series of memories come to life.
In one example of this, Cumming steps into a bathtub, paralleling a scene where she and Marquis jump off a pier into a crystal-clear pool and spend time in the water. She then wraps herself in a bath towel, alone and somber, paralleling a moment where she’s being wrapped in the terrycloth embrace of Marquis, back on the sand. Later, she gazes through a keyhole, catching glimpses of those summer-soaked memories and times drenched in warmth, where she and Marquis are frolicking through fields of tall grass or lounging among the trees.
As the video progresses, her feelings become stronger and her memories are gradually brought to life in her bedroom. She laments, “I don’t need money, I don’t need to be cool / I’d trade it for a moment in the sun with you,” finding that the summertime foliage she’s thinking about has taken her bedroom hostage, a physical translation of the memories skipping through her mind. She then skims through old polaroids of her and Marquis and a notebook whose pages contain pressed flowers from the same time she’s reminiscing on. She strokes a patch of grass that’s manifested on her bed, paralleled by Marquis lightly stroking her arm in the distant past. She blinks away tears as the memories fade when the song does.
Like the video expresses, in quarantine, we’ve clung to a feeling of closeness, which, in an era of social distancing, we’ve seldom had. In terms of “Moment In The Sun,” despite having been written in a context completely separate from the pandemic, it perfectly describes the importance of connection, and how, when it’s gone (or, at least, fleeting), it’s absolutely crushing.
As the band describes themselves, “‘Moment In The Sun’ is about finally recognizing what is important in one’s life, the people you decide to spend it with. All of these things we distract ourselves with, the neverending mountain of career climbing, the pursuit of financial success, and the hope that after all that trying you could finally be cool. All of that is meaningless in comparison to one great day, hour, or moment with someone you really love.”
As the pandemic rages on, we can only hope that we’ll be able to take this sentiment to heart. One thing’s for sure: if we do, the embraces we share with those we care about once we can break the six-feet gap will be back-breaking.
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