Party of the Sun releases second album, ‘Fullest Hour’

  • 'Fullest Hour,' Party of the Sun. Courtesy photo—

Published: 9/8/2021 12:04:58 PM

Party of the Sun, led by songwriter Ethan McBrien and producer/multi-instrumentalist Rory Hurley, has released its second full-length album, “Fullest Hour,” that is available on digital formats and compact disc via Trailing Twelve Records.

A follow-up to their debut album “Trekker” and subsequent “Goldenwood” EP, “Fullest Hour” finds Party of the Sun merging climatic variations into musings on connectedness, nature, and fatherhood. The result is a delicate mingling of experimental Americana, psychedelic folk, and organic ambiance.

Since its inception, Party of the Sun has been a collaborative project of McBrien and Hurley. Throughout their discography, the duo has tapped various collaborators to add their textural expertise as needed. Party of the Sun’s current iteration welcomes drummer and percussionist Garrett Cameron.

With the majority of their previous albums written on a sheep farm, a close relationship with nature continues to be central to the band. Taking a new approach to writing, McBrien and Hurley penned the songs on “Fullest Hour” while on long walks in the crisp evening air of New England’s autumnal months. The duo began recording the album in late 2020 with a minimalist vision of using primarily guitar, mandolin, and wood block. Additional tinkering led to the recruitment of Cameron and the expansion to full drums, various keyboards, banjo, and vibraphone.

“Fullest Hour” finds itself as a continuation of Party of the Sun’s organic sound, however more expansive, mature, and vulnerable. The sun-filled introduction “Bottomless” sets shape to the fleeting and heartfelt tone throughout the album. You can hear an earnestness and care in McBrien’s voice, a soon-to-be father at the time of writing, as he sings “[we’re gonna catch you kid / ain’t gonna let you hit the bottom].” The adventurous and undulating “Brassicas” finds the band playing with texture and space to help illustrate the lyrical commentary on the intersection of nature and industry.

“I spent much of 2020 writing songs by recording improv and listening back for cohesive passages. The acoustic part for “Brassicas” emerged this way. Some weeks later, traveling past a barren field, I started thinking about our relationship with soil and how it mirrors our relationship with one another. This was the spark, I wrote the lyrics and vocal melody that afternoon,” McBrien said.

Ephemeral ambient interludes “Trekker,” “Ursidae,” and “Marcescence” act as moments of meditation tying together the album’s overarching narrative of connectedness. Longer form entries such as “Idle Bend” and “Weight of Age” exemplify the trio’s ability to seamlessly maintain tone while seamlessly shifting tempo and time signatures. The album’s final moments take place within “Highline,” a dreamy and melancholy ballad on how we shape and are shaped by our surrounding conditions – how shedding the illusion of separateness is the work of being human.

“I wrote the initial version of “Highline” during a break from stacking wood early last spring. It was the first track Rory finished for the new album. Digging deeper into his creative vision as a producer, it established the standard for the rest of the album,” McBrien said.

In title, “Fullest Hour” is an allusion to the ephemeral beauty of nature. McBrien explains that “songs can be a lot like flowers in their hour of elegance.” There is an innate desire to make beauty last, to hold onto it, but perhaps impermanence is central to beauty. “Fullest Hour” distills the feeling of fleeting beauty into thirty minutes of wistful, emotional, and thought-provoking compositions.

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