As the release of Montero draws nearer, Lil Nas X has given us another offering from his upcoming debut album. Following the seismic “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” “Sun Goes Down” builds on the more melodic and pop-leaning stylings of Lil Nas’ latest #1 hit.
Produced by the same superteam that helmed “Montero” (Take a Daytrip, Omer Fedi, Roy Lenzo), Lil Nas opts for a more somber soundscape. Gone are the bouncy melody and handclaps of “Call Me By Your Name.” On “Sun Goes Down,” Lil Nas uses a tender acoustic guitar as the backdrop for his most personal and revealing lyrics yet. The contemplative lyrics touch on his battles with suicidal thoughts, colorism, and internalized homophobia. He croons “Always thinkin’, ‘Why my lips so big?/Was I too dark? Can they sense my fears?'” and “These gay thoughts would always haunt me/I prayed God would take it from me.” With songwriting like this, Lil Nas is really opening up in ways that he hasn’t on previous releases. Sonically, the song is reminiscent of Post Malone’s more pop-centric work with a melody that plants the song firmly in the dream-pop-influenced lanes of songs like “Circles” and The Weeknd’s “Save Your Tears.” The bass adds some weight to the song which is needed because so much of the vocal line and the instrumentation floats slightly above the bassline. In many ways, this is also Lil Nas X’s strongest vocal performance; the harmonies are tight, but, more importantly, he’s more expressive and emotive than ever before.
“Call Me By Your Name” destroyed the last of the one-hit wonder jabs, and “Sun Goes Down” should put to bed any remaining questions about the validity of Lil Nas X’s artistry. Sure, the meme-driven energy of “Old Town Road” and “Panini” is there, but Lil Nas is proving that he’s found his sound in this dreamy pop-rap hybrid lane and it’s beautiful to watch.