Stanaj explores an unhealthy romantic obsession on "Sunflower,” his first single since last year's "Bed Of Roses."

Sometimes we want things that are bad for us. Sometimes that's part of why we want them. Chaotic, tumultuous relationships drip with passion, every moment seems like either a firework show or the depths of hell, sometimes both in the same breath. It's exciting, it seems romantic, like living on the edge of your seat or a car racing at full speed, possibly towards a brick wall.

On his most recent single, singer/songwriter Stanaj dissects one of these relationships, that definitely sounds like it might be a car wreck. Stanaj casts himself as a white knight, trying to save someone from themselves, possibly giving himself too much credit in the process.

"And you're left in the dust
Unless I stuck by ya
You're the sunflower
I think your love would be too much
Or you'll be left in the dust
Unless I stuck by ya."

Regardless of unhealthy, their dynamic might be, it definitely results in some good music. "Sunflower" is an epic, romantic ballad, with Stanaj's signature vocal pyrotechnics over a sparkling acoustic guitar line. It's an interesting mix of Pop and Underground. Stanaj's vocals are polished and precise as any Pop Idol, but its a bit more stripped down and sparse than your average pop tune. It brings to mind the pop-trap of Lil Peep, but less aggressive and self-destructive. A little hint of a dancehall flavor keeps "Sunflower" from being straight-up American Idol fare.



Stanaj uses floral metaphors relatively regularly, with his last official appearance being a guest spot on Afrojack's "Bed Of Roses" last year. Flowers are a good metaphor for Stanaj's music. Flowers grow from dirt, blood, and manure. They are fed and nurtured by worms and beetles and other such creepy-crawlies that never see the light of day.

Love and relationships act similarly. There's no telling the unsightly, unseemly things that keep love alive. All of our drives, our desires, are there, crawling beneath the surface, just below the line of sight. And yet, despite - or, in fact, because of - these dark desires, these animal impulses, the most glorious blossoms spring from this fertile, fetid soup.

Whether you're in the throes of a new relationship or mourning an old one, "Sunflower"'s got your back. We Are: The Guard recommend dropping this somewhere on your next heartbroken mixtape. 


J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.