Briston Maroney 'Sunflower' on Soft Sound Press
photo by Angelina Castillo

The 24 Hour Challenge with Briston Maroney’s debut album ‘Sunflower’

By the grace of Briston Maroney’s team at Atlantic Records, I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of his debut album Sunflower (out TODAY!) So, naturally, I decided to listen to it for 24 hours straight.

This is a detailed account of that experience:

Hour 1:

I started my “Eat, Sleep, Breathe Briston Maroney” journey by watching the Sunflower short film. I was asked about what makes things beautiful, I was hypnotized and I may or may not have cried. Great film!

Hour 2:

Serendipitously, (forward slash: I decided to do this challenge on this day specifically), Briston performed live on Bandsintown PLUS! It was my first concert in over a year and I absolutely don’t know how to feel about it!!!!!!!!!!

Hour 3:

We took it to the car. Now, this was a bit tricky because I could only play my copy with WiFi. Oops. Consequently, I listened to the 4 singles that had already been released for an hour while I drove to get Taco Bell. 🤓

Hour 4:

I regaled my vlog with a Taco Bell ‘mukbang’ and listened to the album from top to bottom at the same time. Fun was had by all (read: me)! 

Hour 5:

Lucky for the viewers (and readers!) at home I took the album to the bathtub at my aunt & uncle’s house. They were out of town for the week so it was the perfect time to take advantage of their spa tub! I filled the giant tub with way too many bubbles, donned my wetsuit and listened to the album from top to bottom once again!

Hour 6:

Just to spice things up a little, THIS hour I listened to the album from bottom to top in my bed and tried not to fall asleep….

Hour 7:

I fell asleep.

Hours 8-16:

Sleeping is always inevitably part of the 24 hour challenge……. right??? I’M SORRY I AM ONLY HUMAN. 

Hour 17:

Finally released from my slumber, I woke up with “Bottle Rocket” stuck in my head, made my afternoon coffee, and listened to the album in its entirety once again!

Hour 18:

This is where things started to get weird… I went to change my clothes for the day and I was… green…

The show must go on, I guess! Play Sunflower again, computer!

            

Hour 19:

As I was nearing the end of the challenge, I decided to make a non-alcoholic cocktail inspired by the album. I boiled some sunflower seeds (apparently a Russian delicacy??), added some lemonade and a little bit of my favourite kombucha to give it a little colour and a little kick! Topped it off with some sunflowers that I picked right from my body! They started sprouting about an hour ago and I thought: waste not, want not amirite?! 

Hour 20:

I started to feel a bit ill and was getting excessively thirsty so I chugged 24oz of water and decided to listen to the album in bed.

Hour 21:

I’m sure it’s totally unrelated but after I drank my Sunflower mocktail, long green stems spouted where my arms used to be! It felt natural enough, so on I went listening to Briston’s album for the (maybe) 10th? time… I had lost track because my brain started to feel real fuzzy at this point.

Hour 22:

Another hour passed and I got through two complete play-throughs of the album. All of a sudden I felt a dire need for excessive heat. I was FREEZING in my dark and cold room. So I took to the sauna and kept listening to the album in there.

Hour 23:

I spent a full hour in the sauna listening to the album and when I finally came out…

Hour 24:

I became a Sunflower? I’m not exactly sure how it happened but I fell asleep in the sauna and came out transformed. Luckily, I was vlogging the entire experience and caught the transformation on camera!!

(the video above is just a clip, you can watch my full Sunflower transformation on my YouTube channel!)

(credit: Angelina Castillo)

All jokes aside, I already feel at home in this album. It’s such an insane feeling to hear a song (or ten) for the first time and immediately resonate with it as if your thoughts were being sung to you.

“Come to find I’m the one that will decide my life
It just takes a little time”

The chorus on “Bottle Rocket” gave me a good punch in the gut — it’s something I think about so often I should get this phrase tattooed. My mom has been trying to instill this idea that I am in charge of my life and I’m the one who gets to make all the decisions since I was a little kid. It can feel impossible to remember, though. It feels FAKE. Who would leave me in charge?!

“But why can’t I be someone else tonight?
I’d give anything to make this right” 

Another chorus written to absolutely tear me to SHREDS. At this point, I feel attacked. “Why” makes me think of all the times I can’t even begin to count that I wished I wasn’t myself. I wish I could take back things I’ve done, things I’ve said, even things that I’ve only thought. I hate that I mess up, I hate that I’m human. But what other way is there to be?

“I think God’s been watchin’ you
From his house in Heaven
Hopin’ for a heavy change of heart
All my friends are tellin’ me
Though I’m gettin’ better
I’m not quite feelin’ like myself when we’re apart
I’ve been waitin’ patiently
For a change in weather
Patiently, I’ve waited for your call
If you ask my mother, she’d say
I just don’t know better
But the truth, I don’t know anything at all”

This song. THIS. SONG. Ugh. One of the shortest songs on the album, “Say My Name” has made me absolutely sob every time I’ve listened to it. Is there something in the unfiltered vocals? Is there something in the way it stirs up a tightness in my chest as I feel nostalgia for something I can’t quite place? Maybe I feel nostalgic for when I didn’t know anything about the world and how bad it really gets. I know there’s something in the raw emotion Briston evokes by taking his time with each lyric and giving us too much time to think about what it all really means. 

John Congleton has now produced two of my favourite albums and I would like to thank him while also side-eyeing him because he knows how he affects people. HE KNOWS HOW MUCH HE’S MADE ME CRY!!

I would also like to thank Briston for his continued openness and vulnerability, it means the world. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you to his team at Atlantic for giving me this gift, I had so much fun with this album and I’m so, so happy it’s out for everyone to hear! SUNFLOWER, BABY! 

<3, Allyson

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