Just over two weeks ago, we shared our thoughts on Nashville-based rising star Briston Maroney after the release of his new single ‘Sinkin.’ Now, we’re excited to be back to deliberate our opinions on his debut album – Sunflower. Here at THP, we’ve been anticipating this album release for just under two years now, since discovering Briston in June of 2019, and we can, with one hundred percent certainty, say that it was definitely worth the wait! We are in awe of Briston’s talent and songwriting and are immensely proud of the record that he has put out.
The indie-rock album is made up of 10 tracks and accompanied by a full feature-length visual film, which was envisioned by Briston Maroney himself, and his long-time visual collaborator Joey Brodnax. Each song on the album bears its own cinematically stunning accompaniment, allowing Briston to share his story through both the lyrics, but also visually. Visual albums (especially of this length) are unique for the genre of music that Briston is creating, so this sets him apart. After watching the film, you can clearly see the passion and the love that Briston has put into creating this project, and we were left with such a beautiful feeling.
When creating his debut album, Sunflower, Maroney collaborated with acclaimed producer John Congleton, the legendary Dan Wilson, Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull, and more. The songs recount his winding journey to the present – from “busking at farmer’s markets and playing basement gigs as part of Nashville’s thriving DIY scene, to sobering up amid personal struggles, and finally arriving now at his most fully realized self.”
Where To Aim When Taking A Stab At Beauty
This is the title of the 41-minute visual film for Briston Maroney’s album, which takes us on a journey through each song, accompanied by its own visual video. This is like nothing we have ever seen before, and it is such a clever, and artistic way of storytelling. The film really does immerse the viewer into Briston’s world of songwriting and creates such a strong sense of ‘being a part of something special. The film breaks each song down into its own section – with each section being titled something different, telling the story of what exactly makes something beautiful.
**Images used in the following section were sourced from the visual movie created by Briston Maroney and Joey Brodnax
01 – Landscapes
The storytelling begins with ‘Deep Sea Diver,’ the lead single from the album, which was released back in August o’f 2020. Since its release, the song has surpassed over 760,000 streams on Spotify.
When Briston announced this song on his Instagram, he explained that he was hesitant to release it when he did, due to the fact that he felt society’s biggest focus should be unity, rather than his “own battle with emotions.” He then explained that he was glad that he did put it out, because it became clear to see how much the song meant to us, the fans, and that the fans could resonate a lot with the song and the emotions that are explored throughout the lyrics. The music video for the song really does have a strong focus on landscapes, specifically green areas of land, which could link to the freedom of nature, and the beauty of flowers. You can watch the music video HERE.
02 – Human Enchantment
Next is Briston’s latest single, ‘Sinkin.’ This upbeat, powerful track showcases Briston’s strong vocals along with some insane guitar riffs.
This is the opening track of the album, and it is an extremely strong invitation into Briston’s world and what can be expected from the rest of the album. Certain lyrics within the song reference back to some of Briston’s earlier work – such as the line “looks like Indiana packed up her bags, and went out and got it.”This could be a reference to Briston’s 2019 EP Indiana, which featured tracks such as Caroline and St. Augustine, some of his most emotionally raw work thus far. The music video for ‘Sinkin’ is made up of fragments of clips – including Briston sat in the garden with the literal embodiment of a sunflower, and also some psychedelic, illuminated visuals that give off major rockstar vibes. The music video is available to watch HERE.
03 – Skilled Displays
Chapter 03 is ‘Bottle Rocket,’ another up-beat powerhouse track with heavy instrument involvement.
This track includes layers of isolated and echoed vocals that coincide with the guitar riffs, drum beats, and electric-rock-influenced melodies. The accompanying video for this clip within the visual film features an introduction from Briston and director Joey Brodnax where they address the hypnosis element of the video, which is extremely creative. The fluorescent lights that can be seen within the video go hand-in-hand with the vocals to create the perfect cinematic experience.
04 – Art
An ode to love, or at least that’s what we think. Here’s: ‘Say My Name’.
‘Say My Name’ is the closing track of Sunflower and it is the perfect, emotional love song that brilliantly describes what it feels like to fall in love. This song is where Briston’s flawless vocals really have their time to shine, as the only instrument used is an acoustic guitar. This track is shorter than the rest on the record, which really does create the feeling that this song is an ode to a certain person or a feeling in general. It just feels like a pure, heartfelt poem that Briston has turned into the most beautiful track you could imagine. The lyrics describe the feeling of getting better, but not quite being yourself when you are apart from that one person. The song overall just radiates the most angelic vocals and melodies, really emphasizing the range of Briston Maroney’s talent.
05 – The Ineffable Spirit
Love. Togetherness. It’s All That Matters.
Next up is The Kids. On first listen, it is easy to miss the depth of the importance of this song. But, after listening repeatedly and dissecting the lyrics, we now have a better understanding of the bittersweet feeling that comes alive in the lyrics of this track, especially in the circumstances of the world right now. The lyrics explore the significance of appreciating the small things in life, the importance of love, and the feeling of togetherness – which I think we are all missing in the current climate.
Here at THP, we picked out some of our favorite lyrics that made our hearts fill with warmth, such as “all for one, and one for all, together we rise, together we fall” and “’cause other than loving, there’s nothing that matters at all”. In terms of the melody, the track begins with a gentle guitar riff, which builds up to the introduction of a drum beat, which eventually is joined by Briston’s soft vocals. For the bridge of the song, there is a tender guitar solo that slowly builds up into a powerful beat-drop. It is unclear whether this track is actually about experiences of life during the worldwide pandemic, but even if it is not, there is still such a strong sense of hope that Briston has provided (perhaps unknowingly) within this track. There is a lyric that states “back on the road when the coast is clear” which left us with a bittersweet feeling of the strain/impact of COVID but also resulted in a huge wave of hope.
-5 – Meaninglessness
It’s Still Cool If You Don’t.
This is the third track that Briston has released ahead of his album, and like the others, it was received extremely well. Since its release in February of this year, the song has been streamed over 1 million times on Spotify, and reached #1 at alternative specialty radio in its first week! This resulted in Briston achieving his highest streaming week ever. He’s now doing over 2 million monthly streams and has amassed 100m+ total streams, all prior to the release of an album. The track is 3 minutes and 57 seconds of pure vocal and instrumental talent. The chorus is extremely catchy, and the music video is full of aesthetically pleasing synchronized dances. Check it out HERE.
-4 – Trash
Nostalgic, Reminiscent, And Immensely Beautiful: Cinnamon.
If like us, you’re a long-term fan of Briston Maroney, you might have noticed that one of his new tracks sounded a little familiar. Track 8, titled Cinnamon, is a slow, guitar-based love song that references classic songs such as Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide and Elton John’s Tiny Dancer. We’re sure that new fans will fall in love with this raw, emotional song as quickly as we did back in 2019. In late August of 2019, Briston took to Instagram to share a one-minute video of him singing a new track – Cinnamon, which was co-written with musician Jenny Owen Youngs. When we discovered this post, we were obsessed instantly. Numerous fans rushed to the comments of the post, begging for the song to “get a proper recording one day” and asked Briston if he would be “releasing this on streaming sites”. So, when we first listened to the record and heard the catchy chorus filled with classic references, we instantly knew where we had heard it before – Briston had answered all of our prayers!
-3 – Hidden Internalizations
One Question – Why?
Track 6 of Sunflower is titled Why, and it is a vulnerable, honest song that feels like a personal critique/reflection of Briston’s character. Ever since Briston first started making music, he has never shied away from writing emotion-evoking, sincere lyrics, which is just one of the many reasons why he has such a strong bond with fans – he is real, and the fans can relate to certain songs and lyrics in their own, individual ways. The visual video for this track features Briston driving, alone, down an empty road – the perfect place to be alone with your reflective thoughts?
-2 – Failed Alchemy
I Wanna Run Down The Freeway At Midnight.
The second to last chapter of the visual film is Freeway, a single that Briston has already released ahead of the album. The song is a less-subtle love song but is still enough to make our hearts warm. Freeway is the perfect track to aid our coming-of-age dreams. The mixture of breathtaking vocals and fun, upbeat instrument-created melody creates a sensational, freeing feeling that takes over our bodies whilst jamming to this track. You can watch the music video HERE.
-1 – Digital Spaces
Oh Baby, I’m A Rollercoaster!
Finally, the closing chapter of the Briston-cinematic-universe; Rollercoaster. This is track 7 of the album, Sunflower, and it is extremely catchy, which makes us want to jump up and dance along. The accompanying video within the film for this track is very artsy, with fragmented clips of Briston’s different facial features being combined into one. The video is not quite like anything else that we see in the film beforehand, which really does set it apart from the rest, and is the perfect note to end on.
After announcing the album back in February, fans of Briston Maroney’s music (including us) went crazy on his social media platforms, which resulted in Briston selling out of signed vinyls within a matter of days, as he became the 2nd highest physical selling artist across all of Warner Music Group globally, after only Fleetwood Mac – what an achievement!
We’re super proud of, and in awe of Briston Maroney for the work he has put in to create this masterpiece of an album. He has already taken the world by storm and succeeded in everything that he has released, but a debut album this strong really does just prove that this truly is the start of something special, and Briston is only going to get bigger and bigger – as he deserves! Also, we have to praise the immensely talented Joey Brodnax for his collaboration and work on the feature-length visual film, which is so well-done and so captivating. You can get the album HERE.
Leave a comment below of your favourite song from the album, or tweet us your opinions over at @TheHoneyPop!
Featured Image Source: Courtesy of Atlantic Records.