Review Summary: Living is sexy
Hot off the heels of Leavin’ La Vida Loca
with Antarctigo Vespucci and the Fake Problems record Real Ghosts Caught on Camera
before that, the versatile frontman has only further solidified his footing with an influential blend of both records. Condensed in a short, but brilliant 30 minute debut, Chris Farren displays his strengths as a songwriter and performer with a record that touches base with the dry cut formality of ‘dream pop’ while mixing in various styles of other genres and influences without over-complexifying the deviation or exemplifying the cliches of modern day dream pop.
In parts, Can’t Die
plays its game straight: lush guitar tones that give off a comfortable, afternoon-beach-outing vibe, cutesy melodies, lyrics that push an almost ironic sadness, and gentle vocals that really tie the room together. While the formality is familiar in that regard, where Can’t Die
succeeds is in Farren’s performance and occasional twists. With its short run time, most of the album seams together as a singular track following a “fast pop/slow acoustic” back and forth relationship throughout. When the album is treading familiar ground with its poppier outings, Farren deploys an intriguing mixture of vocal effects and instrumental choice to punctuate the record’s sad love-struck tone in fresh ways. This effect is seen to its best effort on tracks such as “Can’t Die”, “Flowers”, “Brighter,” and “Don’t Be Cruel” where vocals are presented either low or higher in the mix to signify Farren’s conviction, or vulnerability; which in turn, makes his themes and material all the more interesting as he explores the pitfalls of love and the mundanity of emptiness.
Instrumentally, these sort of tracks employ elements of orchestras, alternative country, and even 80s new-wave to give the album more distinct personality and atmosphere. And for all these moments, they work perfectly. None of these deviations are groundbreaking or mind blowing, but their presence and execution work well when complementing the more straight forward pop tracks such as “Say U Want Me” which is a quick moving pop track with a thickly mixed bass lead, a light piano/xylophone riff, and well placed synths and electric guitar lines for atmosphere. Even in these moments, the album shines with their execution, where the placement of these simple elements make each track all the more effective and catchy. Thanks to a short run time and solid songwriting, Can’t Die
sticks around with you despite its run coming and going. While the bountiful interludes rub off as filling over necessary, the record overall shows the potential Chris Farren carries as his portfolio continues to grow. And as his projects begin to grow, his work in turn continues to equally grow as exemplary for the modern day era of dream pop music, and beyond.