Brian Fallon’s album Painkillers is the new breakup anthem for American rock fans. You know Fallon from The Gaslight Anthem, and if they’re your style, you’re guaranteed to like Fallon’s solo album. Songs like “Red Lights” and “Among Other Foolish Things” mimic the heartland rock sounds from The Gaslight Anthem’s album The ’59 Sound with their rustic vocals and raw strings. The first couple of songs sounded a little empty without the drums, but Fallon’s unique voice and memorable lyrics make his first solo album post-Gaslight-Anthem a memorable one.
His album opens up with a catchy as hell song “A Wonderful Life”. It’s the kind of song that makes you want to roll down your windows and drum the heck out of your steering wheel. The opening drum intro and continuous “Woah-oh-oh-oh / Woah-oh-oh-oh”s take you to the pit of a Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band concert. Following up with the Springsteen-influenced sound, Fallon’s track “Rosemary”, tells a story and incorporates crowd produced “Hey, hey hey”s while mirroring his own track “Bring It On” (with The Gaslight Anthem). As an annual Jersey girl (for the summer, at least) the line “She said, ‘I still love the bands and the boy down the street / But everybody else gives me the creeps’” sounds like an idea taken right out of my head—which is no coincidence since Fallon himself, is a Jersey boy.
Like fellow Jersey boy Springsteen, the large majority of Fallon’s songs (if not, all of them) are for and/or about girls. His entire album depicts the six degrees of separation. This album covers every stage from the pitiful “please don’t go” with “Mojo Hand”, to the “I know it’s over, but I’m not over it, yet” in “Nobody Wins”, through a total rebound track from “Painkillers”, and finishing with an “I’ve moved on’” closure track—“Honey Magnolia”. Lyrics like “But where would I go if you left me on my own” (“Mojo Hand”), “I guess we’re never gonna end up the lucky ones / . . . I still remember you driving me crazy” (“Nobody Wins”), and “Every heart I held in between / They were painkillers to me” (“Painkillers”) not only hit you in the feels, but also trigger your “YASSSS” reflex because finally someone has released a Taylor Swift album in the potpourri rock genre Fallon falls within.
Fallon ain’t no baby though, and neither are the girls he writes about, apparently. As a singer/songwriter/storyteller, Fallon emerges from the darkness of heartbreak in tracks “Honey Magnolia”, and “Among Other Foolish Things”. Let me just say this, “Honey Magnolia” is feminist as frick. Yes, Brian Fallon, a man born in the 80’s managed to express the frustrations of fourth-wave feminism in heterosexual relationships. If you don’t believe me, open your ears (and eyes): “Is that an invitation to use my love in your man’s man / world”. The chorus of this track is really kickass, regardless of gender, though. Fallon basically says, “karma’s a biotch, keep the change”. And who doesn’t love spiting the one’s who have slighted you? Fallon gets it. In conformity with Fallon’s relationship (specifically breakup) theme, “Among Other Foolish Things” oozes bitterness and cynicism. With lines like “And they say such foolish things, like ‘Love, love, love, love is all you need’ / But everything inside is saying ‘Danger, baby, love’s gonna leave’” Fallon ultimately says screw you to almost every aspect of love. Sure, it’s more rewarding to be better, not bitter, but this track makes you feel in control of your emotions for a minute or two.
Whether you need this album to work through a breakup, or you need it to get a little bit more of that Gaslight Anthem sound you love so much, the fact of the matter is you need this album like a drug. And Fallon has got the goods, in fact, he invites you to “Come get your painkillers from me” (“Painkillers”). Provide yourself some relief, hell, abuse the heck out of the substance that is Brian Fallon’s Painkillers.
Folk / Alternative | Island Records