Quick Listen: Painkillers by Brian Fallon

brianfallonAs frontman of the band The Gaslight Anthem, Brian Fallon has dealt mostly in nostalgia, both in his band’s style of music and in the stories he’s told in their lyrics. You’d be hard-pressed to identify any of the songs on his solo albums as Brian Fallon songs rather than Gaslight Anthem songs. Sure, I suppose there’s more attention paid to his voice in the mix, but whatever studio musicians he has backing him up here are aiming for the same style as his usual band: anthemic classic rock. Of course, the fact that Fallon draws comparisons to rock heroes like Springsteen, Dylan, and Petty in interviews does his music no favors. If I’m reminded of Tunnel of Love when I listen to your album, I’m pleased; if you remind me that you want your album to sound like Tunnel of Love before I’ve listened to it, I’m unimpressed.

It’s a funny thing, being a rock star in 2016, mostly because there aren’t rock stars in 2016. The Gaslight Anthem was a moderately popular band with a stellar reputation as a live act and depreciating value as an album band until they broke up last July. But after four GA albums, could Fallon compile a Greatest Hits album? Could they do a reunion tour (because it is inevitable that they reunite)? Will GA get played on classic rock stations in the future? Rock doesn’t have a wide audience anymore. We need new expectations for rock musicians, and Fallon is playing by the old rules.

Quicker listen: If I don’t think about it, I enjoy it.

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