You don’t know you’ve been listening to Briston Maroney

 Briston Maroneys newest album charts everyday high and lows with folk and prog rock sounds.

Atlantic Records

Briston Maroney’s newest album charts everyday high and lows with folk and prog rock sounds.

After two EPs and various singles, singer-songwriter Briston Maroney released his first complete album, “Sunflower,” earlier this year. Maroney is essentially the kind of artist you realize you like after listening to him for weeks without knowing it. Whether you frequent an indie scene or have just come across any playlist in this variety, you may have read the title “Freakin’ Out on the Interstate,” Maroney’s 2020 single and overall most-highlighted song on streaming platforms. Maybe you even chuckled. However, his most recent release features many more interesting genre motifs and witty, compelling lyrics that will make you glad to finally discover his name — despite his seemingly basic title choice and borderline-cringey album cover. Though swinging between folk and rock progression and styles, Maroney creates balance through lyrical themes and emotional tone that remains consistent and comfortable. The lyrics thoroughly convey the ebbs and flows of life. Some songs are like each other in sound or topic and others are completely different, but they coexist well in the same project because they all capture tangible and relatable ideas.

The album opens with “Sinkin’,” a track that captures both Maroney’s rock and folk attachments. In it, he highlights specific moments in unnamed people’s stories and discusses common life experiences, all the while concluding repeatedly that “some things are out of your hands.” This theme is echoed and even complicated throughout the album, specifically within the other tracks that follow a more folk song structure. “Freeway” incorporates these ideas with a more unsatisfied tone. “I wanna run down the freeway at midnight / Middle finger to road signs that tell me / I’ve gone too far,” he remarks, mourning the loss of love referenced in the first verse. His pessimistic attitude towards life is driven here by the heart of the person he loves holding him back. Similarly in the later track “Why,” Maroney asks common questions like “Why can’t I be someone else tonight?” and “Why do I pray to a God I know I can’t afford?” and draws more raw and desperate attention to these ups and downs. 

In slower, stripped-down tracks like “Deep Sea Diver,” “The Kids,” “Cinnamon” and “Say My Name,” Maroney ruminates more on ideas of love, longing and lack of control. These ideas, however, come through strongest in the songs that have more of a rock sound. “Come to find I’m the one that will decide my life, it just takes a little time,” he exclaims in “Bottle Rocket,” an anthem-like track truly worthy of headbanging in your car. In it, Maroney talks about recklessly moving forward and not looking back, sliding around notes with powerful guitar and steady bass lines. Ironically, the track immediately following it, “It’s Still Cool If You Don’t,” could not be farther from this idea. A slower jam — but a jam nonetheless — this song captures an ambiguous relationship where Maroney is willing to compromise his choices. “I’ll go if you go, I won’t if you won’t / I’ve got a feeling, but it’s still cool if you don’t,” he sings, walking the line of healthy and unhealthy commitment. 

Through the entirety of the project, Maroney stresses blatantly opposing ideas like these from song to song. This fluctuation in theme resembles the fluctuation of life, and Maroney’s awareness and use of this is apparent. His track that most captures this, “Rollercoaster” does so for obvious reasons. “Oh baby, I’m a roller coaster / Stuck at the top,” he says. “Everything that I want to be, oh, baby / I am not.” Being a person is simply an absolute rollercoaster, and all these songs capture the various strong emotions that come with the weight of existing.   

Maroney isn’t saying anything new in his songs. The ideas found within his lyrics are common and felt by the angsty youth of all generations. Despite this, Maroney keeps common themes interesting with oddly specific ideas or phrases while also producing interesting instrumentals and riffs. 

When it comes down to it, who hasn’t felt like a roller coaster stuck at the top? From strumming on an acoustic guitar to producing ringing rock hooks, Maroney, though not unique or groundbreaking, still puts new words and thoughts to feelings and situations that bring value to any listener.