There is a 44-second introduction in Briston Maroney‘s new album Ultrapure that echoes the title track and tells us what the word means for him: “I was born to forgive you, ultrapure like a child.”
“Ultrapure” was the second song he wrote for the project, and it perfectly defines the approach he took to deliver his story, memories and experiences, through music. It feels innocent but self-aware, like he’s finally coming to terms with what it all means and he’s accepting all the feelings, the good and the bad. In a thank you letter that accompanies the LP, the 25-year-old says: “These songs are about a type of pain I hate and love, but mostly have a deep appreciation for.”
The first song he wrote for this album was “Body,” track number two, which has probably become one of my favorite releases of this year. It also summarizes really well what Ultrapure’s recurring theme will be: it acknowledges the intensity of life and the ephemeralness of it. Someday our bodies will be just bodies (we will eventually all be dead you guys), and that alone gives us even more of a reason to embrace and live through all the emotions and experiences, to cherish them even if in the moment they feel insignificant or like they shouldn’t be happening.
“Breathe,” a more upbeat and rockier song, jumps onto probably a too-familiar feeling for twenty-year-olds: feeling a little lost, like everyone else’s opinions are weighing on you and you’re not really sure where you are in life. “I’ve been living my life, overthinking the options / What if the best option, is none of these at all?” As someone who is terrified of the passing of time and growing old, the idea of overanalyzing things to a point where it eventually gets too late to actually act on things is terrifying but oh, so real and sometimes inevitable. At the risk of sounding disgustingly corny, this song felt like a breath of air though, because it put into words exactly how I’ve felt in the past. I’m not sure if I’m doing a good job at becoming a full on adult, but I can’t stop it from happening so I just have to let it happen to me.
Another subject in the album that hit very close to home was growing apart from friends, something that happens naturally but that I believe we all wish it didn’t sometimes. In “Sunburn Fades” and “Sink;Swim,” Briston sings about settling for less, realizing that maybe you don’t know someone the way you used to, and wondering if you could just walk away from them. Loneliness becomes more common at this age, especially when everyone is changing and growing and trying to become their own person, and there’s a moment where we have to decide if we can move on from the comfortable social circle we had or if that would only make things worse. “If I go, would I be, Someone’s anything? “There is that voice in the back of my head, saying, ‘if you don’t like it, there’s the door’.”
Other tender moments can be heard in “Detonator” and “The Idea,” two love songs that were actually released together as promotional singles. While the rest of the album lingers on general feelings about growing up, these two are about falling in love. “The Idea” in particular has this kind of mature approach since it talks about the future, about building a life together and not just the overwhelming emotions of starting to fall in love. It also has one of my favorite lyrics from the entire album: “I never much cared if we got anywhere, cause the best part is making the plans.”
“Sunshine” is the song that is most explicitly about the singer’s relationship with his mom. I loved seeing that he included this theme and track because I am too a mommy’s girl. It’s a sweet and soft music that describes their dynamic and thanks her for just being there for him. There are cute little details I love in this song, like the fact that he sings about “our blue eyes,” a very visible and characteristic feature they both share, the same way they share other attributes that are not necessarily as evident.
Closing the album, “Ultrapure” feels like childhood (literally). You can hear the innocence and naivité and the way everything seems so shiny and new when we’re little. “Ultrapure like a child”. After having lived through childhood, adolescence and now early adulthood, Briston knows what life is mostly about by now. However, he is choosing to look at it with the eyes and point of view he had in his early years, in a positive light and I guess with a feeling of admiration for how far he’s come. Quoting “Sunshine”, “making jokes like ‘hell at least I’m still alive’.”
I’m getting to a point in life where I am learning to appreciate everything that’s happened to me, the good and the bad (with some occasional mental breakdowns before being able to reflect on things). Like Briston, I also love my mom and have come to love her even more now that I can look back on the beautiful childhood I had and the many ways it made me who I am today. I am also 25 and feeling like time is moving fast but also not fast enough. This feels like a very healthy perspective on life, and I thank Briston Maroney for giving us that in musical form.
Ultrapure is out now.