Marlin’s Dreaming and Erny Belle Shake Up the Romance Ballad with ‘Earnestly’

Marlin’s Dreaming and Erny Belle delve into modern country territory with the new single ‘Earnestly’

New Zealand indie pop darlings Marlin’s Dreaming have left behind the Dunedin sound and joined forces with Erny Belle to bring you ‘Earnestly’—a fresh, bold take on the modern country ballad.

The track delves into the quirks of a couple who can’t quite connect, teetering between breakup and undying love.

The single is accompanied by a new music video, directed by Marlin’s Dreaming’s frontman Semisi Ma’ia’i. The video sets the scene in a seedy barroom filled with elderly dancers, evoking the dreamlike, unsettling vibes of David Lynch and early Coen Brothers films.

The visuals perfectly mirror the song’s theme, highlighting the complexities of love. Lyrics like “I’ve been runnin’ wild for you” and “save me from this here storm” are twisted by the couple’s insistence that they’re speaking ‘earnestly.’

Ma’ia’i describes the track as “about a dysfunctional relationship where both sides aren’t completely aligned, yet are madly in love. It’s tongue-in-cheek, with both narratives asking flowery questions, but to no immediate avail.”

This is Marlin’s Dreaming’s first release since their 2021 album Hasten, which TVNZ Breakfast’s John Campbell called “glorious.” While Hasten explored post-pandemic life with acoustic tones, “Earnestly” steps into a more cinematic indie pop realm. Ma’ia’i’s vocals take the lead, delivering a narrative-rich, polished production.

Teaming up with Erny Belle was a no-brainer for Ma’ia’i. “I met Aimee (Erny Belle) about a year ago. I’d been hooked on her album Venus is Home—such great songwriting and storytelling. Having her on this track made me so happy. I can’t imagine ‘Earnestly’ without her.”

The video’s dingy dive bar setting, inspired by Blood Simple, the first Coen Brothers film, adds to the song’s haunting charm. Ma’ia’i says, “I wanted a slightly horrific country bar vibe. The characters and scenes in Blood Simple evoke a physical revulsion—everything’s so sweaty, dusty, and imperfect, which contrasts with the song’s lyrics.”

‘Earnestly’ is out now.