Before Jon Brion had a hand in scoring Lady Bird, Punch-Drunk Love, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, he made an album in 2001 that very few ever got to hear. Meaningless, released in limited format on his own label 21 years ago, is returning for the first time digitally and on vinyl through Jealous Butcher Records. Meaningless is a mystical auteur’s vision before his apex. It’s a grounded yet unabashedly eager record that unlocks new sonic quirks with every choral turn without overextending itself.
The latest single unearthed from Meaningless, "I Believe She’s Lying,” is one of pure, joyful Y2K rock and roll, written in collaboration with revered singer/songwriter Aimee Mann. With a romantic buoyancy and machine gun percussion, the track fits easily into any genre category in 2022 while still feeling immensely tethered to the era it was first built in. That’s a testament of Brion’s skill and genius, that he can make pop cuts so everlasting.
In the two decades since recording Meaningless, Brion has enjoyed making moves behind the scenes, collaborating on projects with Fiona Apple and Kanye West, and finishing the late Mac Miller’s posthumous Circles. This unearthed work, long vaulted and rarely heard, showcases Brion's distinctive artistry, which combines a magnetic blueprint of charming, rambling vocals with timeless Wall of Sound-style arrangements. The songs on Meaningless are a strong diversion from his scoring work. Instead of well-placed instrumentals, he’s crafted his own songbook and emphasizes his own still-growing legacy.
“I just don’t think we as creatures have the RAM to understand the physical universe, and anything beyond that, that’s beyond us,” Brion said of Meaningless’s existentialist landscape. "Maybe we get to know, maybe we don’t, either way, I’m OK with it.”
Hear “I Believe She’s Lying” below, and pre-order Meaningless—out October 21—here.