The agony and ecstasy of contemporary American life fuels Sunflower Bean’s third album, a psychedelic headrush designed to be played loud, windows down. Headful of Sugar is about outsiders disillusioned with the modern world; they search for freedom and meaning in a culture that runs on the 24-hour newscycle, soulless laptop jobs, and dozens of brands of hard seltzer. In spite of their alienation, these misfits refuse to be beaten down, buoyed by the relief found in interpersonal relationships that counteract the daily barrage of cheap entertainment and convenience. “We wanted to write about the lived experience of late capitalism, how it feels everyday, the mundanity of not knowing where every construct is supposed to ultimately lead you,” Nick Kivlen says. “The message is in the title: this is about fast pleasures, the sugar of life, the joy that comes with letting go of everything you thought mattered.”

If their acclaimed sophomore LP, Twentytwo in Blue, was a self-described “ode to the fleeting innocence of youth,” then Headful of Sugar shoves the listener into a new, dangerous world, one that is less safe but also less suffocating. “Tomorrow is not promised, no tour is promised, no popularity is promised, no health or money is promised,” bassist/vocalist Julia Cumming says. “Why not make what you want to make on your own terms? Why not make a record that makes you want to dance? Why not make a record that makes you want to scream?”

This ethos offered Sunflower Bean a freedom they hadn’t experienced before. They came up as teenagers in a New York music scene oversaturated by indie and always felt like their music, designated firmly in the category of “rock,” didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the city’s output. Nevertheless, they amassed a following rivaled by few of their contemporaries, made up of young people staring down a terrifying future and finding camaraderie in the eclectic rock ‘n’ roll aesthetics championed on Sunflower Bean’s 2016 debut, Human Ceremony. Since the success of Twentytwo in Blue, which debuted on the UK Top 40, the band has toured extensively with artists as disparate as Beck, Cage the Elephant, Interpol, Courtney Barnett, The Pixies, The Kills, DIIV, Courtney Barnett, and Wolf Alice in addition to playing major festivals like Glastonbury, Governors Ball, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Reading & Leeds, and more. Most recently, Cumming was a featured vocalist on Yves Tumor’s critically-acclaimed Heaven to a Tortured Mind.

While Sunflower Bean have cited both contemporary and classic influences in the past, they didn’t look to the rock canon for inspiration for this new album.”We worked quickly and passionately in primary colors, following only our instinct of what inspired us in the moment, says Kivlen. “We weren’t precious about anything, there was a gleeful anarchy.” Recording largely at home allowed drummer Olive Faber to step into the role of engineer for the first time, offering Sunflower Bean a sense of solitude and safety that a traditional studio environment can’t. “We didn’t have to rely on anyone outside of the band and our producer, Jake Portrait, to get Headful of Sugar made,” Faber says. “Self-sufficiency helped us tell the story we wanted to tell.”