Chris Farren - Can't Die (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Chris Farren

Can't Die (2016)

Side One Dummy

Chris Farren details his coping mechanisms on failed relationships, love, social anxiety and severe depression. It's him at his most exposed and honestly, when you let the lyrics sink in, it's a heavy listen. But one that's steeped in a heap of upbeat, mid-tempo jams that'll make you forget how fucked up things can get. Can't Die as the title track implies is all about mortality but Farren does his best to let you know that it'll all be okay. We're not ghosts and in time, it gets better and brighter.  If this array of vastly catchy and flavorful anthems can't pick you up, then I don't know what will.

Most of the songs are poppy rallying calls that I could have seen making waves on the radio in the '90s. There are a lot of musical elements packed in. From acoustics to folk rock to pianos and organs, he incorporates a lot. You'd have picked up on this if you caught him on Where U Are. Tracks like "Human Being" are great to help push the record off, throwing back to "Permanent for me" which really had me optimistic for this solo album. As a fan of Fake Problems and Antarctigo Vespucci, he's done enough to rival what Jeff Rosenstock does on his lonesome. Farren comes off fresh and as cliched as it sounds, an open book. The synth-sections, the backed choruses and the clap-alongs along with his smooth, sincere voice all match to tracks like "To Insecurity & Beyond" and "Still Beating". The latter especially is one of the best indie-gems on offer in its tight percussion and soothing horns. I love how mainstream the record sounds with a few of the energetic songs actually feeling like Vampire Weekend in their prime. 

The album's big on introspection as he beats himself up a lot in guilt. "Everything's My Fault" speaks on this as a shot of fuzzy, power-pop before he gets all Cyndi Lauper with "Don't Be Cruel". Like I said, Cant Die has a lot of flavors to it. A few spins and you'll probably see Napoleon Dynamite slow-dancing to some of these songs at another high-school dance. Or that could just be me, wallowing and hurting. Because Farren connects with every instinct we have. Of wanting to be appreciated. And more so, loved. I think he's rediscovered a much sought-after light in his world and that in itself is something that won't ever die. After all, hope's immortal, not so?