By Alisa Pierce
Artist: Chris Farren
Album: Can’t Die
Release Date: September 2, 2016
After successfully venturing into fashion design and releasing popular solo splits and EPs, Chris Farren has finally released his debut album Can’t Die. The album was apparently influenced by Farren’s realization that death is something we all experience and that he is not exempt from that. However, instead of taking on an overly depressing tone, the album is actually a charming listen.
Can’t Die took a indie pop-heavy direction that sounded very similar to Farren’s previous work in his other project, the indie-emo pop band Fake Problems. Due to the similarities it’s easy to think that Farren stuck too closely to his previous work and did nothing more than release a revamped Fake Problems album, but if you really listen to the album’s folk rock influences mixed with piano and organ melodies, you’ll find that Can’t Die offers a side of Farren that was previously unexplored. Can’t Die truly does a great job of mixing the sound of Farren’s previous work without sounding stale or stagnant.
The songs do a great job of keeping it fresh, as they have been described as “poppy rallying calls” similar to pop-folk ballads of the nineties, while successfully incorporating multiple musical elements that stray from the album’s indie pop-direction. This is evident in songs such as “Human Being” and “Brighter” which both took more of a folk lead than an indie pop one. These songs are also great examples of the variety of mood the album offers. “Human Being” is an upbeat song with lyrics that tell the story of going to parties even if you hate them and the strife that brings, while “Brighter” is a chill lullaby you’d listen to with a giant smile on your face after realizing you’re in love. Each song showcases bubbly beats and chill rhythms that follow in other songs of the album. Farren did a fantastic job of creating a smooth flow of sound that would jump from genre to genre without sounding choppy.
Farren is also left vulnerable by surprisingly heavy lyrics that focus on anxiety, failed relationships, and his severe depression. These lyric include “we stopped talking for some time, I was destroyed, you seemed fine” which followed up the intro in “Still Beating, and “don’t they know, that I’m the champion of giving up?” in the short and sad lament “To Insecurity & Beyond”. Although these lyrics come off strong and can leave you feeling a bit depressed, the upbeat rhythms of the album hide the severity of Farren’s words. To be clear, that isn’t an insult to the album.
The upbeat jams playing around the heavy lyrics are what I found to be the most charming aspect of Can’t Die, as the depression Farren makes so obvious is masked by an almost ironic tone of positivity. The bright nature of the music makes the strong lyrics seem far away and unreal, which not only prevents the album from being a gloomy listen, but also perfectly matches the disassociation that many with anxiety and depression experience. The lively melodies somehow convince you that despite the horrors of the world, everything will be okay, and this cannot be more evident in the album’s title track Can’t Die, which introduced Farren’s theme of fleeting morality.