The Brooklyn artist crafts atmospheric introspection on Citrus. Stream it here.
Everything about Rnie’s new album, Citrus, is reverie-like. Rather than making concept music, Triathalon’s Lamont Brown homes in on a mood. His mixture of lo-fi pop and ambient drone is nostalgic yet hopeful, expressing a yearning for a life that seems long gone. Brown’s vocals are remote and blurred, and the distorted guitars create a warm musical cloud that you can lose yourself in, especially as each track flows seamlessly into the next. The music’s hazy drums keep the movement going, taking you on a journey filled with colors, deep emotions, and longing.
Released on December 7 via Broken Circles, Citrus represents an evolution from Rnie’s debut EP, Fiji Afterglow, moving away from a pop sound reminiscent of Two Door Cinema Club to embrace one that is more introspective. The album is about life’s bittersweet moments, just like a citrus fruit. With careful listening, you grasp Brown’s talent as a songwriter and notice that his lyrics are meticulously evocative, whether he’s dealing with depression, reckoning with anxieties, or striving to avoid overthinking in order to grow as a person.
Brown gave AdHoc a fascinating track-by-track breakdown of the record via email. Check it out below, grab your own copy of Citrus here, and stream it below.
Lamont Brown: The record revolves around depression, overthinking, and the moments in life that put you in those head spaces but you have no choice but to push through, grow, and try to become a better person. The bitter sweet moments: “citrus.” It’s not a conceptual album, but it does go through parts of my life. To make it make sense, you’d have to start on the verse of the second song, “Tobacco.”
The verse talks about being very aware that all the anxiety is in your mind—and that you’ll be ok—but still letting it get to you anyway. “No room to dig me out when my hands are holding slack / Nothing needed finds time to lay upon my back / What’s green and yellow sells fast and tells me how to act / Nothing here is real and I don’t want to react to the…”.
When I talk about the “greens” and the “yellows,” it refers to a metaphorical situation where you’d wake up and take a pill that shapes your mood that day even though there are other options; the green would be envy, and the yellow would be fear. Then it leads in to the repeating chorus: “(and I don’t want to react to the…) things you have, your thumb in hand.” It basically means you’re allowing yourself to be threatened by something that can’t really hurt you. The “things you have” are my thoughts and feelings; “Your thumb in hand” refers to threatening me with a fist to listen to the personification of depression, fear, and anxiety, but if one were make a fist with their thumb in hand they’re likely going to break their thumb, so there’s nothing to really fear. So going back, being very aware you can make it through and it can win, but listening to it for a period of time anyway.
This song’s about my relationship with my mom. She’s constantly at work trying to make money and improve her life, and I’m constantly moving and traveling, and we never really see each other, but we also never really talk about it. “It’s alright / It’s always there, it’s always safe / Those times at night I only rarely get that way” talks about how even though we don’t connect, we know we still love each other, but there are times I lay in bed and think about how it’s not exactly normal, especially since I spent most of my childhood away from her. With [the line] “You’re tired of your body loan, I’m tired I don’t want a home, no”—by “body loan,” I’m referring to a job. In my mind, a job is you just loaning your body and time to labor to get money to get by, and the second half talks about me constantly moving and traveling. The song doesn’t go to a chorus there; instead, it just gets loud and semi-chaotic—just like life, and any situation [where] we might be able to see each other but we’re both busy.
The second verse just adds on to the first idea of me telling her I’m always her son, I’m just out working on my own life right now. “At times I try to hold my name to heaven’s gate”: My first name is Justin. My mom named all of us starting with J, because she’s religious and wanted to take the J from Jesus and name us from that. Then it goes back to the pre-chorus, but this time it actually hits the chorus, which is the solution to the problem: “Slow down now, down now, down now…” Basically, it’s saying we need to slow down and take the time to see each other and talk.
This song, to me, is what would play in my head as kid on Saturday, playing with my toys and being hyper-imaginative, without a care in the world. It’s very cut and dry, loud and bright. Like childhood, but [then things start to get] dark, where the songs talk about issues I’ve encountered in my adult life.
This song talks about meeting someone and rushing into the idea of a relationship with them— where they’re super happy about it, but you realize it’s a terrible idea, and you have to get out of it for both of you. But instead of ending it at that moment, you don’t; you can’t tell if you’re just getting scared of the idea of commitment or not trying hard enough to make it work. Over time, you start to get burned out trying to act like nothing’s wrong, and you notice you’re not yourself around them anymore. The chorus—”Send somebody, I’m unlikely”—talks about how you’re not upset with that person, nor have they done anything wrong, but it’s just not in the cards. It’s not a “Screw you”—it’s, “I want you to be happy, but […] there’s someone else out there for you.”
The verses talk about the feeling when you hit this realization; you slowly start to sink and stress about everything you say, because you know you can’t lead them on. Yet, you keep talking and contradicting all the things you’ve talked about before, when the future looked bright. “I’m a drag here lately / And I guess it shows” leads into the ideals of the song. “Tell you what I want and then I’ll tell you that I’m sick of it / I’d love you so much more within a week but I’ll get rid of it / Seven days of keeping in my thoughts and all my arrogance.” These are the songs on the record that discuss trying to not mess things up, but the unwillingness to talk and fear of social failure, among other things, creep in.
This song acts as a lullaby on the record. At this point, we’ve talked about a few different anxiety-driven subject matters. Normally, if things get too much, I resort to sleeping it off. But this song ends with an abrupt crescendo that takes you out of sleep and throws you back into the real-world issues and goes into song seven, “Wax.”
“Wax” is about seasonal depression—being out of the house and feeling dragged down, but knowing when you get home and you’re alone in your room with your thoughts it’s going to get worse and begging it to stop. “Some days, not often, my eyes soften before they’re cared for my body locks / And I ask, ‘Is it too late?’ / I get home and now I’m hoping tides have spoken / Before they come and take me and make me crazy.” The song then goes into an otherwise relaxing loop of guitar, bass, and drums, where everything seems fine, [then] goes back into the depression. “No way to stop it / My mind’s adoption waits for a clear point for my time to stop.” After the second chorus, the song slides into a lowered volume—a dream state of sorts—and slowly starts to build. But like “Cherries,” [the song] abruptly stops and skips around in a thrashing loop like a broken record—much like days in and out of seasonal depression.
8. Earth Angel
Like “Citrus,” “Earth Angel” is about trying to date. This song, though, talks about meeting someone, connecting with them in a great way, but jumping the gun [and] almost automatically hooking up with them, and both of you feeling like you took it too fast and as if it’s lost all meaning. If only you kept getting to know each other before, it wouldn’t be so awkward now. The verses talk about my mind telling me things are now weird, and not feeling the same chemistry with that person and slowly detaching yourself [from] them. They make other plans when you’d normally hang out, and you do the same, until the idea of a partnership is now just a bar story.
“I’ll make the call / say it’s all my fault how I can’t get close to you / How I can’t get close to you.” “A single mind and it’s out of line.” The first lyric talks of my mind not being able to get past it, and the second talks about how you’re back in that single living mindset, and any line of synchronization has faded. The “chorus” talks about thinking of the last time you two felt the chemistry, when you were together in bed: “Take me to the place where shadows swallow faces, all our minds erase when equal parts engage in.” The song ends with the drums going into half time and the song slowly falling apart, like the two of us did.
9. 2nd Life
The idea of wanting to fix something regardless if it’s big or small, but not knowing how to deal with it, so you just push it under the rug is the plot of “2nd Life.” “I’m sure it’s fine / I’d rather be the same / No words or time with you or anything / With me lately, I’d hollow heavy hands / With me lately, I’d rather be the same” summarizes that feeling. The song then just loops and jumps around with the guitar coming in and almost mocking the melody, as if [to say], “All you have to do is talk to that person to fix it; you’re being stupid.” Then, when the song seems to have exhausted itself, it cuts to a clip of an old roommate (who put me in a bad situation and left me in the dark) saying “Sorry.” Then [it] fading into a slowed, dreamy version of the first half that goes back to the idea of laying down and sleeping it off instead of resolving the issue.
It reflects on how you’re sick of being not the best person you could be, and [asks] why is it so hard to talk to people. Later, you talk it out and realize how painless it was and wonder how and why you let it drag on. “And I’ll go back to bed / Rethink what has been said / I’m so tired of me / Are you tired of you? / Do you wade through your words hoping they will come through?” Then it talks about how you know, in the other party’s mind, this will always be in the back of their head when they think of you, regardless if they forgive you or not. “And now my average is set / The one that I keep compared.” The song fades into the last track of the record, after asking one final time if the [other] party has ever felt like this.
10. C O N T I N U E
The final song on the record reflects on situations—whether they’re platonic or romantic relationships, or just what you deal with in life—where you put in so much and feel as if you got so little out of it. “You said to me, ‘I would never ask for nothing,’ then you took a piece of me / Reminder that I have some substance / You showed me who you are.” Although it comes with a melancholy delivery, there’s a glimpse of looking on the bright side—that [there’s] a piece of me that feels missing, but realizing you lived through it. You’ll be fine—not only will you grow, but at a point you won’t think about it anymore, and it fades back into the dreamscape.
This finally takes us back to the first song: “Boys.” “Boys” and “C O N T I N U E” are the same song, where “C O N T I N U E” was written first then scrapped after we wrote this one. The bass and keys on “Boys” reflect the melodies on “C O N T I N U E,” and the lowered monster vocal takes the shape of the missing bass. The song was only brought back and re-recorded after my bandmate Josh Thomas mentioned having a looping record which fit, since so many of the songs are based off of repetition. From that point, we go back to “Tobacco,” and it all goes again.